Introduce kids to reality early

Brett Mufson

I was very excited after reading the “Youth Movement” article written by Stewart Oksenhorn in the Aspen Times (April 7). I found myself considering the article in a local context. Namely, what type of effect on local teens would these stories of war, immigration, globalization and religion have? Could it be beneficial to educate local kids by showing them these types of films? As a former Aspen High School graduate, I experienced the small-town atmosphere firsthand. I loved growing up in a community where I recognized everybody in town. Still, I must question whether my adolescence in Aspen truly prepared me for the rest of my life. My first day at the University of Pennsylvania, located in the heart of west Philadelphia, I was shell-shocked. Different religions, different cultures, different colors – you name it.This was the reason I wanted to come to Penn, to see reality. I wanted to attend classes with students from different economic backgrounds and with different political persuasions. For instance, the 2006 freshman class at the University of Pennsylvania will consist of 44 percent minority students. Aspen lacks this diversity, which is part of the reason why the transition from a small town to a big city was so difficult for me. After reading the “Youth Movement” article, I think it should be mandatory for local high school students to watch these sorts of films. Showing them films where the protagonists are children is a great way for local teens to identify with new and important subject matters. As Oksenhorn stated in his article, by illustrating children combating the complexities of a world even adults have difficulty understanding, filmmakers are able to “raise the emotional heat of a film, and personalize the story.”Fortunately and unfortunately, Aspen does not encompass the normal society and atmosphere of most places in the world. My friends still can’t believe I’m from Aspen. To be able to watch short films such as “Lucky,” a story of a troubled boy living in South Africa, would provide local high school students with a better understanding of the adversity encountered by other children throughout the world. Another interesting film chronicled in the article is “Be Quiet” by Sameh Zoabi, a Palestinian studying film at Columbia University. This film tells the story of a father and son facing hostility and trepidation at a military checkpoint in the West Bank. These films illustrate the hardships children across the globe confront in their everyday lives. These are the type of stories Aspen teens should be privy to. Many people feel educating students through film can be extremely successful. In fact, Susan Cook, the executive director of the UW-Madison Arts Institute, was quoted in her local newspaper saying, “film is a visual medium, providing an unparalleled opportunity to show both the outside of other cultures and what’s underneath in terms of values and beliefs.” With that being said, local teens in Aspen should be encouraged to view these films. I believe it will help prepare our children for the future and provide a sense of reality outside of Aspen. While the world connects in a state of increased globalization, Aspen has remained cocooned from the rest of the humanity. When I was in high school, there were certainly no classes offered considering the issues of globalization, immigration and the like. The world news is probably the only vehicle to educate our local teens about the realities of the world. I think another mechanism is necessary.Aspenite Brett Mufson is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania. The article referred to is at