Accessibility links

Breaking News

Student Union

Becoming the Facebook Generation: What Defines Us?

Stories of the days that changed young lives
Stories of the days that changed young lives


With the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks came the predictable flurry of “where were you when” stories – seemingly everyone has one, and with good reason. 9/11 was surely one of those defining events that changes the way people look at the world and at their fellow human beings.

And the decade anniversary got me thinking: sometime soon our generation is going to run the world, and the way we take on that challenge will be molded by the experiences we’ve been through. What will those experiences be? How are they different in different countries? And will they put us in a good position to be the world’s shepherds?

The What’s Your 9/11? project, which we ran along with our parent organization, the Voice of America, was created to explore exactly those questions. Our goal was to build a living database of the events shaping our generation, as seen through the eyes of those who experienced them.

We opened the question to young people across the globe, and received responses from Bolivia, Armenia, Pakistan, Australia and everywhere in between - every continent except Antarctica, in fact. And, unsurprisingly, they covered a wide range of experiences, which we plotted on this nifty timeline (zoom in or click the + signs to see more).


The most cited event was 9/11 – 27 different people talked about the 9/11 attacks as a moment that defined their lives.



But the impacts they described differed drastically, even among people in the same country:
“If 9/11 had not happened, I may not have learned English, may have not connected to the world, may have not know what is going on in other parts of the world and finally would remain a totally dumb, uneducated and unaware individual.” – Ali, talking about the impact of the fall of the Taliban

“Every day tens of our people die, while the international forces have brought us nothing good.” – Jan, talking about life since international forces began fighting a war in Afghanistan

Other stories described a range of life-altering experiences. And it wasn't all wars and natural disasters - some people talked about positive experiences as the event that most impacted their lives. Here is a sampling of other stories submitted from around the world:


“Much as Armenia was then and continues today to be plagued with corruption, ineptitude, and a lacklustre economy, such barbaric events serve to deepen the frustration with the circumstances on the one hand, while strengthening the resolve of those who care, in particular the younger generation, to work for a better future for the Republic of Armenia.” – Nareg, discussing how young Armenians were impacted by the 1999 parliament shooting

#feb14 have changed my life, it has made me breath the freedom, although it did not last long - @ibn_warraq, Bahrain
#feb14 have changed my life, it has made me breath the freedom, although it did not last long - @ibn_warraq, Bahrain

“When everything was over, the streets were a total disaster and many stores were still closed. But aside of being afraid I remember the change that started then, with the president resigning in such a bad manner, I could only imagine what would come next.” – Alejandra, discussing the impact of the Bolivian gas crisis

Rebekka, on how Hurricane Katrina forced her to grow up


Despite discussing a wide range of events, the stories we got showed the universality of human emotion as well. People described how dramatic experiences not only shaped their worldviews, but also crept into their daily lives in unexpected ways - for many, major events created new anxieties, or new habits.
“When I go to work now, I carry everything in a backpack with a water bottle and snacks, and also a mobile phone charger.” – Tatsuo, talking about how after the earthquake in Japan he is constantly ready to flee again

“It just affects the way I think about security, and the way I think about travel, and the way I think about other people. Are terrorists gonna come and kill us? If so, what do they look like? Do they look like me?” – Lindsay, talking about how 9/11 changed the way he looks at other people

“Before 9/11 we could freely practice Islam … But after, I started to look for a place where there was no one, because people would stare at me …” – Immad, discussing how his religious practice has changed since 9/11


So what are the lessons we are collectively taking away from these experiences? Are they making it easier or harder for us to understand each other and work together to make a better world?

Certainly the stories illustrate how dramatic experiences create new fears and worries – sometimes about other people or whole cultures.

They also show a determination among many to make things better in the future.

But in the end, what this project really showed is our sense that we don’t think any of these experiences are what will shape us most.

Time
and time again when we asked, on the Facebook page and in forums, what will most define our generation, the response was that we will most be defined not by our differing dramatic experiences, but by our shared experience of growing up in a time of rapid technological change.

We won't be the "9/11 generation" or the "Arab Spring generation" - we're the "Facebook generation," and for better or worse, we are proud of that.

See all News Updates of the Day

Tips for first-year international students in the US

FILE- In this March 14, 2019, file photo, people walk on the Stanford University campus beneath Hoover Tower in Stanford, Calif.
FILE- In this March 14, 2019, file photo, people walk on the Stanford University campus beneath Hoover Tower in Stanford, Calif.

Book your flights right away, get a U.S. phone plan, make sure you have linens for your dorm and attend orientation – that’s some of the advice international students have for first-year college students coming from abroad.

U.S. News & World Report compiled helpful tips for students studying in the United States for the first time. (July 2024)

Survey: Social integration, career prep are important to international students

FILE - FILE - In this March 14, 2019, file photo students walk on the Stanford University campus in Santa Clara, Calif.
FILE - FILE - In this March 14, 2019, file photo students walk on the Stanford University campus in Santa Clara, Calif.

A recent survey of international students in the United States found that before starting school, they were concerned about personal safety, making friends and feeling homesick.

Inside Higher Ed reports that international students want specialized orientations, peer connections, career preparation and job placement to help make their college experiences successful. (July 2024)

US advisory council ends Nigeria visit, signs student exchange deal

Deniece Laurent-Mantey is the executive director of U.S President's Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement.
Deniece Laurent-Mantey is the executive director of U.S President's Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement.

Members of a U.S. presidential advisory council have approved a student exchange deal between an American college and a Nigerian university as part of the council's effort to strengthen collaboration on education, health, entrepreneurship and development between Africa and Africans living abroad.

The council also visited a health facility supported by the United States Agency for International Development in the capital.

Nigerian authorities and visitors chatted with members of the U.S President's Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement as they toured a healthcare facility in Karu, a suburb of Abuja, on the last day of the council's three-day visit to Abuja and Lagos.

The facility is one of many supported by the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, to improve the management of childhood illnesses, family planning, immunization and delivery.

The tour was part of the council's effort to promote African diaspora-led investments in technology entrepreneurship, education and healthcare delivery.

"They're doing a phenomenal job there, it really gave us a sense of what the healthcare system is in Nigeria," said Deniece Laurent-Mantey, executive director of the advisory council. "This is our first trip as a council to the continent and we chose Nigeria for a reason — the diaspora in Nigeria is very active, very influential, and they're really a source of strength when it comes to our U.S.-Africa policy. And so for us coming to Nigeria was very intentional."

The council was created by President Joe Biden in September to improve collaboration between Africa and its diaspora in terms of economic and social development.

Akila Udoji, manager of the Primary Healthcare Centre of Karu, said officials in Nigeria were pleased that the council members were able to visit.

"We're happy that they have seen what the money they have given to us to work with has been used to do, because they have been able to assist us in capacity-building, trainings, equipment supply and the makeover of the facility," Udoji said.

Earlier, the council signed a deal for a student exchange program between Spelman College in the southern U.S. city of Atlanta and Nigeria's University of Lagos.

Laurent-Mantey said education exchanges are one of the council's top priorities.

"In Lagos, we had the president of Spelman College — she's also a member of our council — she signed an agreement with the University of Lagos to further education exchange programs in STEM and creative industries between those two universities," Laurent-Mantey said. "And I think for us it's very important, because Spelman College is a historically Black university, and so here we are promoting the importance of collaboration between African Americans and Africans."

In March, the advisory council adopted its first set of recommendations for the U.S. president, including the student exchange initiative, advocating for more U.S. government support for Africa, climate-focused initiatives, and improving U.S. visa access for Africans.

The council met with Nigerian health and foreign affairs officials during the visit before leaving the country on Wednesday.

American Academy of the Arts College announces closure

FILE - Signs and writing denouncing the closure of the University of the Arts are seen at Dorrance Hamilton Hall on June 14, 2024, in Philadelphia. More recently, the American Academy of the Arts College in Chicago announced it would close.
FILE - Signs and writing denouncing the closure of the University of the Arts are seen at Dorrance Hamilton Hall on June 14, 2024, in Philadelphia. More recently, the American Academy of the Arts College in Chicago announced it would close.

The American Academy of Art College in Chicago announced it would be closing after 101 years of preparing students for careers in art and illustration.

WTTW news reported that like other art colleges, the academy saw enrollment drop after the pandemic, and officials made the decision to close the college last month. (July 2024)

update

5 killed, dozens injured in clashes over Bangladesh jobs quota system

Protesters of Bangladesh's quota system for government jobs clash with students who back the ruling Awami League party in Dhaka on July 16, 2024.
Protesters of Bangladesh's quota system for government jobs clash with students who back the ruling Awami League party in Dhaka on July 16, 2024.

At least 5 people were killed and dozens injured in two separate incidents in Bangladesh as violence continued Tuesday on university campuses in the nation's capital and elsewhere over a government jobs quota system, local media reports said quoting officials.

At least three of the dead were students and one was a pedestrian, the media reports said. Another man who died in Dhaka remained unidentified.

The deaths were reported Tuesday after overnight violence at a public university near Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka. The violence involved members of a pro-government student body and other students, when police fired tear gas and charged the protesters with batons during the clashes, which spread at Jahangir Nagar University in Savar, outside Dhaka, according to students and authorities.

Protesters have been demanding an end to a quota reserved for family members of veterans who fought in Bangladesh's war of independence in 1971, which allows them to take up 30% of governmental jobs.

They argue that quota appointments are discriminatory and should be merit-based. Some said the current system benefits groups supporting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Some Cabinet ministers criticized the protesters, saying they played on students' emotions.

The Bengali-language Prothom Alo daily newspaper reported that one person died in Dhaka and three others, including a pedestrian, were killed after they suffered injuries during violence in Chattogram, a southeastern district, on Tuesday.

Prothom Alo and other media reports also said that a 22-year-old protester died in the northern district of Rangpur.

Details of the casualties could not be confirmed immediately.

Students clash over the quota system for government jobs in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 16, 2024.
Students clash over the quota system for government jobs in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 16, 2024.

While job opportunities have expanded in Bangladesh's private sector, many find government jobs stable and lucrative. Each year, some 3,000 such jobs open up to nearly 400,000 graduates.

Hasina said Tuesday that war veterans — commonly known as "freedom fighters" — should receive the highest respect for their sacrifice in 1971 regardless of their current political ideologies.

"Abandoning the dream of their own life, leaving behind their families, parents and everything, they joined the war with whatever they had," she said during an event at her office in Dhaka.

Protesters gathered in front of the university's official residence of the vice chancellor early Tuesday when violence broke out. Demonstrators accused the Bangladesh Chhatra League, a student wing of Hasina's ruling Awami League party, of attacking their "peaceful protests." According to local media reports, police and the ruling party-backed student wing attacked the protesters.

But Abdullahil Kafi, a senior police official, told the country's leading English-language newspaper Daily Star that they fired tear gas and "blank rounds" as protesters attacked the police. He said up to 15 police officers were injured.

More than 50 people were treated at Enam Medical College Hospital near Jahangir Nagar University as the violence continued for hours, said Ali Bin Solaiman, a medical officer of the hospital. He said at least 30 of them suffered pellet wounds.

On Monday, violence also spread at Dhaka University, the country's leading public university, as clashes gripped the campus in the capital. More than 100 students were injured in the clashes, police said.

On Tuesday, protesters blocked railways and some highways across the country, and in Dhaka, they halted traffic in many areas as they vowed to continue demonstrating until the demands were met.

Local media said police forces were spread across the capital to safeguard the peace.

Swapon, a protester and student at Dhaka University who gave only his first name, said they want the "rational reformation of the quota scheme." He said that after studying for six years, if he can't find a job, "it will cause me and my family to suffer."

Protesters say they are apolitical, but leaders of the ruling parties accused the opposition of using the demonstrations for political gains.

A ruling party-backed student activist, who refused to give his name, told The Associated Press that the protesters with the help of "goons" of the opposition's Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-e-Islami party vandalized their rooms at the student dormitories near the Curzon Hall of Dhaka University.

The family-of-the-veterans quota system was halted following a court order after mass student protests in 2018. But last month, Bangladesh's High Court nulled the decision to reinstate the system once more, angering scores of students and triggering protests.

Last week, the Supreme Court suspended the High Court's order for four weeks and the chief justice asked protesting students to return to their classes, saying the court would issue a decision in four weeks.

However, the protests have continued daily, halting traffic in Dhaka.

The quota system also reserves government jobs for women, disabled people and ethnic minority groups, but students have protested against only the veterans system.

Hasina maintained power in an election in January that was again boycotted by the country's main opposition party and its allies due to Hasina's refusal to step down and hand over power to a caretaker government to oversee the election.

Her party favors keeping the quota for the families of the 1971 war heroes after her Awami League party, under the leadership of her father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, led the independence war with the help of India. Rahman was assassinated along with most of his family members in a military coup in 1975.

Load more

XS
SM
MD
LG