Searching for role models

Rula Samain (Photo: Jordan News)
Rula Samain (Photo: Jordan News)
A couple of years ago, I lectured a crowd on interfaith dialogue and integrity in journalism, and among the group were some young people. Later that week, I received a letter from one of the younger attendees saying that he found in me what he was looking for: A role model. He added that he would pursue his studies in journalism once he finished the Tawjihi (general secondary education certificate examination). The young man passed Tawjihi successfully and is now completing his first year studying journalism.اضافة اعلان

It’s not my habit to mention or share on social media platforms every positive comment I receive, though many are very encouraging.

However, something in this comment left me questioning the status of youth in our society and the burden we place on them. We want them to be doctors, engineers, lawyers, among other trendy studies. Parents hope for their children to fulfill these professions without caring much about what the youth themselves want.

Currently, politics has been added to the scope of careers, encouraging the youth to expand their involvement in the political process in the hope of making them politicians who would decide the country’s future at a very early age, as early as 25 years. But have we prepared them for this, or better, have we set good examples for them?

What makes young people extraordinary is their energy and excitement for life. They are full of hope and look forward to tomorrow. They speak with confidence though they have little experience in life. They rush to adventures as if their life depends on it. They look danger in the eye and challenge it. Yet, they are vulnerable to errors, especially while living in times where values and ethics are contrasted between what they are taught and what they witness in real life.

Along with my career as a journalist, I’ve taught in several universities in the capital Amman before indulging in the beautiful journey of writing books. Teaching is a gift; it’s about transferring values and beliefs before information. Hence, not everyone is eligible to be a teacher.

On every first day of teaching, I usually ask two questions: Who is your role model, and what is your favorite animal? Only a few would answer the second question, And it was usually either cats or dogs. But the first question would usually be answered in a manner similar to this: The late King Hussien, the late Wasfi Al-Tal, Nizar Qabbani, a late father, a brother, or a martyr. One or two would name a famous football player.

The young generation needs role models. They need good role models to help impact them on a deep level. The repetitive stories about the deceased are encouraging, but we also need to invest in the living to share role models that will positively impact the youth, in both words and conduct.

Society needs to instill in the younger generation that each of them is unique and grow their confidence so that they will contribute and build the country in their own special way.

To teach them about friendship and love, encourage them to read more, involve them in sports and art. We need to keep them adrift, giving them reassurance and confidence that they have a choice in everything they do in life and that they should be able to choose well.

To teach them that role model are no angles, but instead are people who got over difficult times and moved forward making their life and the lives of those around them worthwhile.

It is never about money but more about integrity and self-respect. If we can teach them that, then progress in our society would be evident to all.

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