What College Students Think About Today?

Yesterday, I had a chance to re-connect with one of our KIVU Gap Year Alumni in Denver.  Kristen Hendrix was a part of our world adventure a couple of years ago, and has now become a part of our larger network of friends around the world.  She’s been nominated to be a part of the National Student Leadership group in Washington D.C., is three semesters away from graduating from her University, (that’s a semester earlier than most)  and is well on her way to making a vital impact in today’s world.  She and her friend Jake met me at the Panara in Downtown Denver for a little catching up and chatting about what College students are interested in today.  

I’m writing this, not to reveal any secrets of our conversation, but to highlight some of the new generational thoughts.  Much has been made of the Millenials and how they interact with the world, but the graduating class of 2016 is on the verge of re-defining a new group.  Kristen and Jake are on the bleeding edge of a new class of students entering the workforce, and I thought it interesting to share some of the things they are interested in.  

They Long For Meaningful Mentoring

I was impressed as we sat over soup and sandwhiches, at how much these two were able to articulate their hope for an older generation to engage with them.  My mentor and dear friend, Wes Roberts, was with us; and as I listened to this fresh new outlook on the world I was more convinced than ever that there’s a place for Mentoring to occur far beyond the teenage years I’m accustomed to.  I suppose I’ve always known that mentorship is a relationship that lasts for a lifetime, but as my University friends were talking, I heard loud and clear, “We need to spend time with people who know more than we do.

As a challenge to my readers, whether you’re a young professional or retiring from the workplace, life is more than production.  We don’t cease to have significance in relationships simply because we have grey hair and are finishing up our productive years.  And we certainly don’t have to forge through our beginning work years ALONE.  

OLD FOLKS:  There are young people out there who need time with you.  YOUNG PEOPLE:  There are older men and women who would LOVE to encourage you, and put you in a place of success by sharing their life with you.  And if I heard my friends right; their entire friend group is longing for meaningful whole life mentoring.  So, get out there and share what you know. Take a second to slow down and spend time with someone who knows more than you.   I think you’ll be surpirsed at how welcomed you’ll be to this space.  

They are aware of failure

I’ve seen this coming for a while now.  Working with KIVU and The KIVU Gap Year, I’ve been a part of a conversation with tens of thousands of young people who are keenly aware of things that don’t work.  They’re not afraid to ask hard questions that may seem intimidated to people who hold on to the way things have been done.  They’re creativly interested in helping to find solutions to the world’s BIG problems.  

Why is poverty still a thing?

Why do people live in a space of comfort for the sake of doing hard things?

What role does religion really play in the globalization?

How can we be involved in wrok that matters?

These are questions that some may feel intimidated when a twenty year old starts asking.  It threatens the way we’ve lived in and around the world, but the beauty can be clearly seen through the eyes of optimism.  My generation (the X’ers) are plagued with the cloud of pessimism from the 90’s and 00’s.  We see the world through a lens question of “What does it all matter anyway?”  But the new generation is welcoming the hardships and finally getting to a place where some of the failures of the past won’t dictate the potential for the future.  They are well aware of failure and don’t fear the success of the re-designing systems for maximum impact.  

Access doesn’t mean realtionship

As many of you know, I’ve been concerned with the impact of social media on the relationship development of the future.  I’m not as convinced that social media is actually bringing more people together, but rather; I believe many of the social platforms have actually distanced us from knowing each other and being known by one another.  

Sitting across the table from two of the brightest students I’ve interviewed, I realized, they are willing to put down the relationship of the internet, and forge ahead with a real human relationship.  They want to talk about meaningful things.  They’re not satisfied with the “Top 10 reasons the Kardashians ate chesse today.”  They know engagement with the world is going to have to include the internet, but are keenly aware that meaningful relationships aren’t simply satisfied with the speed of access to someone’s instagram account.  

Kristen referred to her time on The KIVU Gap Year more than once as one of the most impactful years of her life.  As she took the year to see the world and the people in the world she developed an awareness that we all have similar needs, and she’s ready to engage.  

All this to say, I’m ever more encouraged the next generation is going to surprise a lot of people.  All those naysayers who are concerned that smartphones are developing a generation that doesn’t know how to interact with the world; GET READY.  They’re on the way.  

Kristen and Jake, thank you for your time.  I really appreciate the honesty at which you were able to give me a peak into your world.  I’m honored to call you my friends.  

Let me know what you think

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