Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Teen Scene

Teenagers in Lesotho are like teenagers everywhere. Different cultures and different styles of living apparently make little impact on the wants, needs, and desires of adolescents. Living in a rural village without electricity or fancy toys does impact the way Lesotho teenagers spend their free time as hours of television, video gaming, Facebook, and texting are not an option.

Here are the top 5 positive ways that youth spend their free time in my village:

# 5: “Going Up and Down”
Going up and down is classic wandering mixed with a bit of loitering. Teens usually participate in this activity with a partner or as part of a trio. They stroll the village with no particular destination in mind, stopping to talk with friends as they go.

#4: Staying Late at School
Schools are a huge gathering area. Students travel up to an hour or two to attend school. As a result, their school friends may live far away and school is their only opportunity to interact. Many students will stay late to participate in clubs covering activities and topics like GLOW, Chess, English, various sports, Choir, and more. Also, especially before exam time, students will stay late to “read” with their classmates. As much of the learning is done through taking notes, students in Lesotho call studying “reading”.

#3: Playing Music at Max Volume
This one requires someone with a solar powered radio. Teens will gather for hours around the radio, often including impromptu dance parties. Since the radio is solar powered, this gathering is strictly outside and becomes larger the longer it lasts.


The girls playing "primitive" with local children
#2: Playing with Children
Children flock to the teens when they are hanging out in the village. Eventually, the teens, especially younger women, will start leading a game, a song and dance, or playing house with the younger children. Last weekend, I passed a few teens who were entertaining children as they played “primitive.” They had gotten some food from their parents and were cooking in old tin cans on an open fire.  Everyone was having a blast.

#1: FOOTBALL!
Football (soccer for the Americans) is far and away everyone’s favorite pastime.   Boys play constantly, as football is still predominantly a male sport here.  When the boys are just playing for fun, the more daring girls will join in. Others sit and watch the fun.


A weekend football match in my village.
The village has two teams comprised of teens and young adults. These teams practice daily and play almost every Sunday, occasionally even on Saturday. When there is a home match, pretty much every weekend with two teams, almost every idle teen makes an appearance, whether to see the match or be seen by their peers. At the matches, they stand in tight groups with their friends; socializing and occasionally singing cheers at the players.  But, it is not just matches or pick up play that brings the teens. They will often go and hang out around the field during the daily practices as well. 

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You should choose as your life's work whatever feels the most like play.
-Harvey Oxenhorn