The low-down on our youths

Reaching out to the Malaysian youth: Do we just run a competition, make sure it is highly successful and then close shop or continue to stay involved after that to link up with the youths through other mechanisms?

The current mechanism we are thinking of is a music event. Why music?

Simply, music appeals to the youths of today.  But the event is a one-moment-in-time thing. The sharing of values takes months and years. Who does that?

SABM needs all the manpower it can get. To illustrate once again, we need support from all quarters to lend a helping hand.

Everyone has the potential to shape thoughts and change mindsets.

There can be other mechanisms – like being a leader in your own neighborhood, taking up the challenge to network with neighbors and lead them to embrace the SABM vision.

If youth outreach is going to be a long term effort by SABM, then this music contest will not just be a single event to achieve that. There must be year round activities and a working strategy already in place.

A recent survey was recently done in talking to a university student yesterday whose friends included students from other colleges in Subang Jaya, Kuala Lumpur. These students were of generally the same   middle-class homes, driving to college or university, having money to spend, having mobile phones, etc. Of course this is just one person being spoken to but some of the things said are quite revealing.

1. Would a music event interest youths? “Perhaps, if famous overseas singers were brought in.”

2. Would youths take part in a competition where they compose their own songs and melodies? “Yes, but how big is the prize? The money must be big.”

3. You’re going to be 21 years old next year. If we organized a workshop during your term holidays this year for you to learn about your rights as a voter, would you attend? “Er.. I think I will attend it after I am 21.”

4. What they do outside of studying? “Surf the net, hang out with one another, talk about studies, the latest news (not usually politics), gadgets, games and movies, listen to music.”

5. Their values? To begin with, words like ‘ethnic’ and ‘ethics’ were not understood. This student’s answer to what his core values were:

a) Core value? Like moral values? “I think it would be er.. I’m not sure also…”

b) Integrity was something new to him. Honesty he understood.

c) So began an informal lesson about the meaning of ‘values’. He suggested that youths be taught this.  Yes, he has heard his friends say if they were stopped by cops for speeding, just pay them off.

6. Hopes and dreams for Malaysia in the next 5 years: “I hope this nation will treat everyone equally, more truth about things happening in Malaysia instead of fairytales being printed out in the newspaper (unlike internet where we can get some true information too.)”

7.  Regarding the role of youths and young adults in nation-building: “They do have a role as they might be the future leaders, but I can see that most of the students now do not really care about the events going on in the nation as compared to the older generation.”

8. If you were a youth leader in the SABM movement, what would you do to involve other youths?  “First, I think I would need some training. I will first talk to them, but not give a talk as it will bore them – maybe a normal casual conversation with friends. Friends who are interested will talk to other friends and it will spread fast, and they will understand better.”

Its just not college kids but the same trend can be found amongst our junior colleagues, where shockingly, one of them read no newspapers, had no clue as to any of the current issues and was just not bothered. Probably, these people liked to hang out at karaoke joints.

There was a personal opinion that the type of youths who were typically apathetic self-centered should not be our immediate priority because they:

1)  had been severely conditioned to care only for themselves.

2)  were not interested in current events outside of their immediate interests.

3)  (like in any other segment of society) would rather not get involved in “big” issues/causes

4)  (like in any other strata of society) formed a large majority

It is going to take a huge effort to even convince them why they should be concerned, much less be involved. To focus on them with the limited resources available to SABM would be like trying to pull an elephant up a tree alone.

A better suggestion would be to find and involve the small number of youths who ARE ALREADY interested or curious. Get them together; give them an avenue and a voice and a direction. Then we can all reach out together to the larger group. There’ll be more people to pull the elephant then.

Peter Wong, BUMblogger, Infopreneur, citizen journalist, is a full time affiliate marketer helping others succeed online.
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