Our Young Folks: Hope for a Better Future [Archives:1998/16/Viewpoint]

April 20 1998

Over the last few days, I was part of a three-person team that has been conducting interviews with 62 potential candidates for the Canadian Occidental scholarships. The majority of the applicants – boys and girls – were 19-20 years old. They have recently graduated from high school.

I was struck with their decidedly positive and optimistic outlook on life. Most of the time, except for the time I lecture at Sanaa University, my contact is with older folks. In fact, at the Consultative Council, it is often with average people. The mood with the older people is definitely pessimistic, and often frustrated. It is indeed refreshing to meet these young people.

In the interviews, we talked about the hopes, plans, and aspirations of the high school graduates. To them, the world is a good place. It offers much hope.

But, it was not just the hope or what some may call a naive attitude. These young people in general have been working hard. They have mostly learned English and some computer skills on their own. They identify with the future. They are eager to put in their share of the effort for a better Yemen.

It was clear they wanted the chance to learn more. To go to Canada is a dream because of the opportunity it offers. But the purpose is “to learn as much as possible and come back to help my country”. Still better is the good feeling these kids have for Yemen. They love their country, which is far more gratifying than the feeling of the highly politicized older folks who are looking for a way to “leave a sinking ship” as they call it.

My country has great possibilities. That is how I always felt. And I am happy that a broad sector of young Yemenis agree with me. This country will work and can offer its people a good life. And as our system evolves, it will offer countries a good partner and a positive contributor in creating a peaceful and harmonious world.

It was a delightful and pleasant experience to meet and talk to our young secondary graduates. I am happy I volunteered to go through what I had originally perceived as a tedious series of extended interviews. If I were to suggest a dose of realism to our politicians who are full of grudges and complaints, it is to hold meetings with the younger folks. I ask them to listen to the plans and hopes of the younger Yemenis. I ask them to appreciate the love for Yemen and the optimism the young people have in the country’s future.

Prof. Dr. Abdulaziz AL-SAQQAF
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher