Behind the Voices - "We are a generation that grew up in the middle of new technologies"
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Please introduce yourself (name, age, what you do, etc.):
My name is Facundo Sutherland, I'm 18 years old. I'm from Rio Gallegos, a small town at the south end of South America, in Santa Cruz Province (Argentina) which is part of this beautiful region of the world, Patagonia. From childhood I grew up in a family that is actively involved in social issues of the community. My grandmother was provincial deputy and she led for a long time as the Municipal Council for Children and Adolescents in our city working actively on issues- such as the fight against adolescent drug abuse.
For this reason, I was always interested in discovering ways to take action on issues of my city and country in order to help improve these situations. I have collaborated with the Provincial Culture Secretary conducting creative workshops with 7 to 11 years-old children based on the ideas of the great Italian writer and educator Gianni Rodari in his "Grammar of Fantasy." In 2012, I represented my province in the Youth Mercosur Parliament carrying out a project on the role of Children's Rights in today's globalized society with a focus on the right to education and recreation. I've recently made, along with a friend, a research and sociocultural intervention project about the small space given to Divergent Thinking in the current educational system which has received recognition from our school. One of my personal goals is to promote creativity among children in order to achieve a future where different ways of seeing the world can coexist and we all can appreciate them. We should also gain access to culture for all people and end the unequal access to information, which luckily is achieving a good work of institutions. I'm also interested in analyzing the role of media in our society.
My main work now is to achieve further promotion of a network that we started with friends from countries such as Ecuador, France and Senegal called "The Nation of Youth.” Our goal is to strengthen a network of collaboration and exchange ideas among young people with the idea of working together for a better world.
I often speak about Ken Robinson, Gianni Rodari, Luis Pescetti, Maria Montessori Eduardo Galeano, Pedro Brieger (I recommend his reports on international politics which are clear and show a great knowledge of the treated subjects), Spike Jonze, Eva Peron, Steve Irwin and Héctor Germán Oesterheld. Next year I will move to Buenos Aires to study a filmmaking career, which is one of my biggest passions as well as literature.
What are the expectations of young people in your country or community?
In Argentina we have a resurgence of interest in youth participation, young people working in social organizations or being part of the political debate. I really enjoy this, because as young people the future is ours. The best way to ensure a promising future is to work on it right now, each one giving their best and with our different ways of thinking, for this cause. It is something that during the last Argentinian military dictatorship, which persecuted, tortured and murdered thousands of people who thought differently (including many young students from schools and universities), tried to end using the fear. But our country has rebuilt. We have shown that we can overcome that fear, although there's still some people who try to silence youth, stigmatizing us as seen in many newspapers and TV channels.
Why is youth participation in today’s society very important/necessary?
As I mentioned above, I think there is no better way to ensure a promising and equal future than working right now for it. Besides, we need to make our voices heard, and take the role we have: an indivisible part of the social process. We want to opine and change things that we see that are wrong and perhaps others are unable or unwilling to see, not necessarily for stubbornness, but perhaps because they can't get to understand it all. We are a generation that grew up in the middle of new technologies and we live in a globalized world where there are thousands of ways to communicate, but there are still some voices that can't be heard. Who better than youth to get those voices heard?
Are you engaged in civic issues? If so, what do you do?
"Nation of Youth" was born as a proposal published in Voices of Youth. I was looking for other young people in order to exchange ideas on issues that concerned us. From there, "Nation of Youth" began. I must say that without the impetus that Alfonso gave to the network, we would not have succeeded. We use Facebook as the basis for the diffusion of our work. It is also a way to contact people and coordinate projects as the one we had in Ecuador with a group of young people, whom I admire so much. In Ecuador, we conducted workshops with children at risk or as another workshop of fantastic creation that we had in my city with support from the Culture Secretary.
Our objective for the "Nation of Youth" is to consolidate this network to create a connection between young people around the world to carry out social and cultural projects and exchange ideas and solutions about problems of diverse communities. We work as if there were no borders, and we want to delete those borders to create this "nation" where we can work towards that goal. Some people think is as a utopia, but we believe it is possible for a better world. Burundi, Ecuador, France, Pakistan, Senegal, Argentina are all very different places but are joined together in an atmosphere of cooperation and solidarity. In 2014, we will work more than ever to achieve our goals.
What is your motto or your favorite expression?
It is difficult to choose a motto that guides my thinking, so I will give you two:
"The total use of the word is a beautiful demonstration of sound democracy. Not that everyone is an artist, if not, to no one is a slave" by Gianni Rodari and "Happiness is only real when it is shared" by Christopher McCandless.
Is there any advice or message you want to give to youth?
Take an active part in the processes of your community, debate, be involved with organizations in the way you want. Make your voices heard, and don't let anyone silence you. Work to ensure education, is our right. Receive and share culture because this is the highest expression of human reason. Do not let anyone hurt a child. If the most pure thing from our society is hurt, what can we expect from others? Fight for equality in all fields. And above all, live your life to the fullest.