My experience working with youth of 15 years old

We are currently in the 8th week of our internship, and less than 3 weeks are left in Montevideo. At this point, I would like to share you my experience of working with young people. This has been the first time that I have worked with girls and boys of 15 years old. These girls and boys were students of 3rd grade from Liceo 39 of Piedras Blancas. Piedras Blancas is an impoverished neighborhood in the north side of Montevideo. We conducted a total of 6 focus groups with the students.

Those teens come from different social contexts. I would say that some of them come from middle class families; while others come from a less favorable context. A good indicator of their social context was what they did in their free time. For example, boys and girls from a less favorable social context liked most to hang out or play soccer with friends. Girls and boys from a more favorable social context used to have internet at home and liked to spend a couple of hours each day at Facebook or playing video games.

After the focus groups, when I was listening again the tapes, I realized how at that age the social differences are not as important as they become later when we growth up. The kids of Liceo 39 are socially mixed and they do not care about the social differences as then some adults do. As well, they were not ashamed when they mentioned that they do not have internet at home, or that they need to help her moms taking care of young siblings.

What broke my heart were their dreams, dreams that we usually have at that age. In the focus groups, we asked to them what they would like to be when they grow up. They mentioned that they would like to be fashion designer, soccer player, history teacher, engineer, and biologist. Probably, half of them will not have the means to assist to the university. Probably, some of them will marriage soon and will start working in more modest positions that they originally thought.

I like that age, when we think that everything is possible and that we think that we deserve it all, when we are happy and without worries. Then, when we grow up, we start facing tough situations in life and we suffer deceptions. We stop dreaming and we lose that innocence. We were more spontaneous when we were 15 years old; we had a capacity of surprise for the new things that we discovered. Then, we lose that capacity of surprise for life. Probably, this is why the world it is like it is nowadays.

I would like that we were more as boys and girls of 15 years old, full filled of dreams and with that capacity of surprise still untouchable. I can say that I have learned something new from the students of Liceo 39; it has been an enormous pleasure to work with them.

– Roberto

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