As mentioned in an earlier post (http://blog.olenepal.org/index.php/archives/377), OLE Nepal has started the initiative to create content suitable for Young Adults. As a first step, a seminar was organized on the 22nd December, 2010 in Kathmandu to discuss the various issues, problems, and challenges faced by young adults in everyday life. The seminar was attended by eminent authors, artists, teachers, students, social workers, parents and others related to the literary field.
The program began with OLE Nepal’s Founder and Executive Director Mr. Rabi Karmacharya welcoming the guests and giving a brief introduction on OLE Nepal’s pioneering activities in ICT-integrated education. This was followed by a short demonstration of the digital library, E-Pustakalaya. Then Prof. Churamani Bandhu, a prominent writer and a member of OLE Nepal’s digital library advisory panel, presented a paper on the state of young-adult literature in Nepal. This was followed by another panel member and prolific author, Mr. Vinaya Kasajoo, shedding light on the importance of young-adult literature, as well as on various issues such as youth psychology, emotional state, and socio-psycho-economic factors affecting the youth of today. Then the floor was opened to all participators to share their thoughts on what the writers should address on this new genre of literature.
Founder and Executive Director Mr. Rabi Karmacharya welcoming guests
Mr. Ganesh Ghimire describing features of E-Pustakalaya.
All participants agreed that there is a dire need for literature content that is created for young adults. Several participants suggested that topics such as oneâ€™s growing sexuality and experience with drug usage during adolescence should be addressed in stark contrast to the traditional approach in Nepali society of not discussing such issues. Many youths today are addicted to drugs such as marijuana, brown sugar, lsd, sniffing glue (huffing glue) and acid. This has come about due to consumer goods such as glue being easily available in the market and pharmaceutical products being sold without prescriptions.
The older generation seem to have been caught unaware of this development. They tend to regard cough medicines as only medicine and do not recognise the danger of their children ingesting such pharmaceutical drugs in large quantities. While Young Adults tend to be aware of a drugs ability to get them high they do not understand the dangers that come along with ingesting products which is easily found in their household medicine cabinets. Regarding sexuality, participants opined that since girls discover that their physical changes occur faster than that of boys their age, it is important to make girls aware that such changes are not unnatural. Without much information nor adults who they can turn to for answers, girls are more likely to be introverted as well as become victims of bullying and eve teasing. These changes, coupled with the existent gender discrimination girls face in Nepal, means that adolescence is the most difficult period for a girl to come out of without being mentally and emotionally scarred.
Prof. Dr. Churamani Bandu presenting his working paper
As marginalised genders’ get empowered it is also important that we prevent violent backlashes against them. Young Adult literature should deal with complicated issues such as third gender and importantly how they fit into our society. YA literature is a new genre thus, it has the capability to break away from the traditional boy-girl relationship or the old concept of what it is to be a woman or a man. It was also made clear that while presenting such social issues, literature should create an atmosphere which is not too far from reality. Old authors may not understand how new technologies and greater access to consumer goods have affected todayâ€™s youth. New age problems such as cyber bullying, perils of amateur pornography and sharing others’ private information on social networks need to be kept in mind.
Mr. Vinaya Kasajoo moderating the seminar.
Others pointed out that there is a real need for historical fiction. Many young adults struggle with identity crisis; on the one hand they believe they are adults, yet adults around them treat them as children. This coupled with a lack of historical knowledge tend to have negative affect on teen aspirations and spirits. Few teachers present in the seminar felt that knowledge of historical figures should be depicted in the literature so that young-adult readers not only feel a sense of patriotism, but also have proper role models they can look up to. Further, such historical content will help put the achievements of young adults in perspective.
Participants of the Young Adult Literature Seminar
Many of the social workers present pointed out that teenagers tend to be rebellious by nature. They tend to commit illegal acts by making graffiti in public areas, using firecrackers and attempting other acts of vandalism. This type of rebellion is caused by their frustration at not being taken seriously by adults in authority.Â It has been found that a well reasoned response go further than just telling teenagers what it is they can and can’t do. In this way literature should allow them to better deal with these emotions and show them alternative paths where they could direct these energy for constructive purposes.
The information and suggestions collected at the seminar will be used in the young-adult literature writing workshop that will soon be organized by OLE Nepal.