by Maureen Forsythe, BCA Youth Director.
In August the BCA invited local youth to write a short essay on one of three topics. The topics were about coming of age, the idea of potential and limits and individual competence and autonomy.
The BCA is pleased to announce that two young Blackburn residents took up the challenge posed by this writing contest. Navid Rowhani and Nura Rowhani, who are brother and sister, each wrote a short essay on a different topic. Both of these emerging writers attend Emily Carr Middle School.
In his essay “A Fair Game” Navid, who is 10 years old, focuses on the limits of individual competence and autonomy. He writes “Let’s say the world is a soccer team. You have to work together to get the ball in the goal. You can’t play the game by yourself…Playing as a team is way better and easier.”
In her essay “From Sapling to Fruitful Tree” Nura, who is 13 years old, focuses on what it means for adolescents to come of age. She writes “Any celebration of the transition from youth to adult shouldn’t produce a sense of finality, but should instead stimulate in youth a sense of responsibility and commitment to put them on a path of growth, service and contribution for their entire lives.”
The BCA is happy to confirm Navid and Nura Rowhani as co-winners of the Wonderful Writers Contest 2022. Each will receive a cash prize of $125. Congratulations to both Nura and Navid!
“A Fair Game” by Navid Rowhani
When I wake up, I stress about joining new clubs to build new experiences, I have to think about getting the best marks on my tests so I can get into a good school. All my free time is used for lessons and activities like piano and swimming, to make me smarter, faster, stronger and better. I see my friends do the same. I see my mom trying to get better at French to get a promotion at work. All of this is so I get a good job to be able to live comfortably, be independent and be free to make my own choices.
If you’re too focused on your goals, then you won’t be focusing on what’s happening all over the world. Let’s say the world is a soccer team. You have to work together to get the ball in the goal.
You can’t play the game by yourself. Imagine if one player could do everything in soccer: defence, offence, forward, midfield, etc. The coach encouraged him to be autonomous. You’d probably lose. Playing as a team is way better and easier. He wouldn’t be able to win by himself. When you focus on yourself, you try and win all the awards, but you are one puzzle piece.
You’re one part of the body. Our body needs all our parts to work. Imagine not having one of your body parts. You can accomplish more together. Let’s say I’m running. I need my eyes to look where to go. I need my legs and feet to run and keep balance. I need my lungs, digestion, heart and brain for oxygen, energy and focus. All your body parts need to work together in harmony, just like different people with their different competencies.
If you were running a race, and everybody had the same size of shoe, it wouldn’t be fair, some people would have advantages and some people would have disadvantages. Everyone needs the same chance.
My grandpa always says “Your freedom ends where someone else’s begins.” People’s choices and freedom’s always affect others. I can choose to buy land and cut down trees. I can choose to ask my parents to drive me in their car everywhere, instead of biking, going on a bus. But there are consequences to that. We all know how bad environmental choices affect on everybody.
Maybe tomorrow when I wake up, I won’t be stressed. I still want to win contests and go do sports and piano, but I want to use the skills to impact everybody positively, and work together by cooperating. Everybody has to be treated fairly. The consequences of a focus on autonomy and competencies is like a fun fair game that everybody can enjoy, but only if the focus is on people not one person.
“From Sapling to Fruitful Tree” by Nura Rowhani
All around the world a youth’s transition to adulthood is celebrated through different religious and cultural ceremonies, all beautiful and significant in their own way. Some are feats of strength and endurance such as the Amazonian ceremony, Satere Mawe , while others mark religious accomishments, such as the Malaysian Khatam al Koran , or the Jewish Bat Mitzvah . Some are parties, like Sweet Sixteens , Quinceaneras , and the Japanese tradition, Seijin No Hi . But is there a way of universally defining qualities that should mark this special time?
As you prepare for adulthood, money has new importance. The way you choose to save and spend your money is critical to being financially stable as an adult. Not only are you going to be providing for yourself, but likely a whole family as well. Oftentimes we celebrate significant milestones such as coming of age with ostentatious parties and extravagant gifts. The money spent could have gone towards education, planning for the future, or giving to someone who needs it.
The stage of adolescence is important, and unique to all other stages of life. There are certain special traits that characterize this time, which society often perceives in a negative manner. Strength and determination can be perceived as stubbornness, enthusiasm as impulsiveness, inward reflection as moodiness, and courage as recklessness. Youth is a time of preparation for adulthood when you take full responsibility for yourself and your actions. No matter what you do, it is key to use these distinguishing traits to benefit humanity.
Youth, as future custodians of our planet, are entrusted with the responsibility to reconstruct and rethink healthcare, education, government and economics. Not only that, but also to knock down barriers to peace and unity like prejudice and inequity. They have the job to right the wrongs of climate change, poverty, and inequality between men and women.
Knowing and understanding that youthood is a time for service and preparation does not mean that upon reaching adulthood, life becomes a break. Your potential to contribute to the world is lifelong. Any celebration of the transition from youth to adult shouldn’t produce a sense of finality, but should instead stimulate in youth a sense of responsibility and commitment to put them on a path of growth, service and contribution for their entire lives.
Sometimes, our society places much importance on the superficial, and what should characterize these celebrations might be overlooked. In my opinion commemorations of maturity should be a reflection of the defining traits unique to the time of pre-adulthood, encouraging youth to contribute to the world, just as a grown tree bears its fruit. Ideally, events marking one’s coming of age should include aspects that maximize contribution in this time. Examples could be traveling to explore different cultures, taking a service year, or participating in leadership and internship programs to discover one’s passions and skills. By including these sorts of activities, we would honor this time more effectively.