Greetings from Éire!

My name is A-, and I am a young person of sixteen. So much is happening right now in my life. I went to my first RC workshop two weeks ago. It was on early sexual memories. I had to miss a Friday from school. At the workshop I was feeling so vibrant and loving and powerful. Then I got back. I was in a brilliant mood going into school when suddenly I found out from my friend what my teacher had said about my absence. He said, "Oh right! Wouldn't it be nice if we could all take four-day weeks to go on holidays!" I was so angry, and I think the reason was that I went from such a secure and equal environment (the workshop) to that teacher oppressing me. This was the last straw.

I'd like to tell you about how my year fits into the school. We are so powerful, and the best thing is that we realise it! My year is full of good thinkers, creative artists and musicians, and powerful young women. We take charge and try to stand up for each other. The school hates this! The first year we were at my school, every rule must have been broken by us. We were told that we were the worst "bunch" the school had ever "taken on." From then on they oppressed us badly - because we were so powerful and because some of us weren't going to put up with their (mainly unnecessary) rules. This oppression goes on and on. We did have one moment of triumph though. We all had to sit in the Senior Cert, which is a state exam. When the results came back it turned out that "the worst year in school" had gotten the best results in the school's history! Yea! One for the young people!

This year they gave us twice the abuse we had normally gotten. It seemed like every teacher had something to say about us. After my teacher's comment about my Friday off, I decided that from now on I would (a) have regular sessions on being oppressed as a young person, (b) realize and understand that most of the heat we're taking from the teachers is their distress and has nothing to do with us, and (c) set up a students' council to try to start an effective young persons' movement in my school.

I am still seeking approval (!) for the council. I am working to try and make it sound as safe as possible for the teachers. While the liberation of young people is my main objective, we must also be careful not to scare adults if they can't discharge that fear. (When the teachers saw our year's power, they became twice as oppressive and many times more rigid.) Adults should discharge regularly on the power of young people and on their own power when they were young people, be that great or small. If adults discharged a lot on early memories of being suppressed then maybe they could stop the passing on of the oppression of young people from generation to generation. If this coincided with young people's liberation work, it would make things easier.

This century has brought many changes in the way people of colour, Jews, women, and men are treated, and questions are beginning to be asked about young people's treatment. Freedom around sex and sexuality is happening; religions are looking like a reform is in order. When my parents and other adults were born, a lot of these changes hadn't begun. When they were growing up, it was considered the deadliest sin to have sex before marriage. If a single woman got pregnant, it caused enormous scandal and great shame to her family. This resulted in things like dances where the guys were on one side, the girls on the other, and there was no touching!

Well, that was my parents' generation. My generation? One in six pregnant women is single. Discos are a very mixed affair with plenty of touching. People aren't so loyal to the church anymore, and young people are not going to stand for the "seen and not heard" routine. My point is that the difference between me at sixteen and my mom at sixteen is unbelievable. It may as well be me from Mars and her from Neptune - that's how different and alien we are from each other.

Adults always say, "I didn't do that when I was your age . . ." and they're right, they didn't. For adults to be effective allies to young people they have to realise just how much things have changed.

I am going to assist in teaching a fundamentals class and after that, maybe teach. I am also organising a young people's support group. I'm so proud of myself! I believe I can do it! I just made up a poem:

RCers everywhere,

Strong and free,

Proud of each other,

Full of glee.

Living gets hard,

But we won't take the heat,

"Cause oppressive society we're going to beat!

A -
Stillorgan, County Dublin, Ireland

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00