Friday, February 03, 2006

Adolescent Angst

I meet every Friday morning with two high-school students, Luma and Safet. We drink coffee together and practice their English while I learn a few phrases in Albanian and what Kosovar teens are thinking about. Every week I give them a writing assignment – purportedly to help them practice their English, but really I want material for my book.

They both write for a monthly magazine called “Youth Voice,” which is coordinated by my friend Luli, and is a Mercy Corps project. It is written for teens, by teens from rural villages. I asked them to translate one of their articles into English, and Safet chose one entitled “Teenage – Critical Life Stage.” He told me at our first meeting that his favorite writer is Sigmund Freud, and he wants to study psychology at the University if he can find the money to go. Which explains much of the jargon in the article; I had no idea what he meant when he wrote “the affective equilibrium achieved...” and had to assume that he wrote it correctly in English.
I am by NO means making fun of his translation; I can only imagine what my syntax and inferences would be if I tried to translate into another language. But I thought his points illustrated how teens are the same, whether in America or war-torn Kosova. I LOVE the last line, and fear it at the same time. Hits a little close to home.
Here’s an excerpt:

“At this point of time not that one undergoes only physical changes but a lot of other changes occur as well. This life stage seems to create a distance between the youngsters and their parents as well as an approach with other people. Teenagers like acting according to their free will. … By the fast growth of the body parts, depression and tiredness occur. Teenagers experience loneliness and annoyment. … They are unhappy, stressed out, feeling unsafe, and opposing others. Teenagers don’t like working. From a hard-working person they turn into a lazy, sad and apathic character. They work as little as they can. As a consequence of their parents and school pressure, aggression and hatred towards parents and the elderly occur. A teenager would have arguments with his brothers and sisters. He would also express his unhappiness with others.

All these features are usual for a teenager. If they occur in later stages of life they could cause mental illness.”

1 comment:

JJ said...

Welcome to my life!!