Teri Vance: The rising generation
Kids these days …
If you’ve been paying attention at all to social media memes and stereotypical tropes, you know exactly how they are.
They eat Tide pods. They can’t problem solve. Forget about getting them to do any work, they’re too busy playing video games.
When it comes to communicating, they can’t make eye contact or even write in complete sentences. Snapchat has ruined them.
That’s not been my experience.
For the fifth year, I have taught an oral communications class for Western Nevada College’s Jump Start program. In the program, high school juniors take college courses for dual credit. If they are successful, they can graduate from high school with an associate’s degree.
Friday was the last day of my class at Dayton High School.
During the course of the class, I had students who left right after to go straight to their landscaping jobs. One had volleyball practice before our 8:30 a.m. start time, another was training for the cross-country running team at the same hour.
One student taught himself to backflip on a hill in his backyard. Anyone who doesn’t think that’s a feat, conquering both physical and mental limitations, has never attempted a back flip.
But these aren’t the things that stand out the most.
More impressive was listening to the stories these students shared in their speeches.
One student talked about the butterflies he got before doing a daring stunt. That doubt that hit him right in the gut before he pushed past boundaries.
Collectively, as a class, I can truthfully say they pushed past that feeling of fear and self-doubt to be vulnerable with themselves and each other in the speeches they prepared.
We talked about the choice we all have to be safe or to be authentic. Time and again, I witnessed their bravery in choosing authenticity.
These kids have suffered heartbreak beyond their years, overcome struggles beyond my comprehension. They have adventures and interests and passions. And shared them all.
Do you know what’s even more impressive than that? They supported one another through it all.
Public speaking isn’t easy. Even seasoned professionals falter.
During moments a speaker froze in fear, classmates urged him on with encouragement. When someone else ran out of content before the minimum time — a 15-point penalty — her peers urged her to keep going.
When students shared their personal tragedies, their fears, their dreams, their classmates held them sacred.
But we also spent a considerable time laughing, a semester’s worth of inside jokes in three weeks.
As I leave these students, they enter into the rigor of college life — combined with the responsibilities of high school.
It will be difficult for sure, but they will meet the challenge, I have no doubt.
Like generations before them, the youth now have their individual and collective challenges and changes that set them apart from their parents.
So when I hear the phrase, kids these days … I think, yep, those guys.
I’m proud of them. The world is in good hands.