Monday, June 22, 2009

Singing in the Istanbul rain

A hundred and fifty young people from across the world were invited to the fourth World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey this past March. Unfortunately, they experienced the kind of treatment from the political leaders that is too often experienced by young people trying to make a difference. According to Emilie O'Herne, one of the young forum participants,

"Across the world, the younger generations are patronisingly patted on the head by their seniors for taking an interest in global issues - if as much - and then efficiently ignored. There is little that quite boosts a politician's popularity like playing the "I love youth" card, but to actually listen to them seems out of the question. Youth involvement in this domain has become a nasty piece of tokenism in which young people are invited for the sake of being invited and nothing more. It is simply not enough."

Fortunately, Emilie and her young colleagues refused to be ignored at the conference and were able to get some attention. And despite her frustration, Emilie offers these words to other youth:

"[W]e should not be discouraged even if we are turned down; after all, live to fight another day and one day soon you will be old enough to be taken seriously."

Singing in the Istanbul rain

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