American Neighborhoods

The Difference Between American JYG and the Rest of the World

I have a bad habit of only taking pictures of dogs and not of the kids who come to the core activities.  At least I have really cute puppies.

One thing that I have found interesting is how hard it is to have junior youth groups in the United States.  We hear glorious stories around the world about how the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program has taken off and these young ones have taken off and are arising to serve.  Yet in the United States, we are not seeing the same growth.  At times I have wondered if it is the animators who work with these youth.  Are we the ones incapable of really striking a chord with them? Are we misdirecting their energies so that they do not want to be part of this world-wide movement of change?

I heard a story once from the Southwestern Regional Assistant for Junior Youth Groups about a man from Africa (I think it was Cameroon or some other country in the West). He apparently had groups of 50 or more kids where he was from.  He came to the US and was eager to serve, especially when he heard that groups here were only about 10.  After a few groups meetings he said that he had never managed groups so difficult to manage.

What about our American society makes kids more disruptive and unwilling to grow up and take on more responsibility? It reminds me of this article my friend Amanda shared on her facebook.  Why are American Kids So Spoiled?

Today we had 6 girls over for Junior Youth Group, and of course Amelia was here to help.  When Kevin came home from work today he asked her how it went.  She said “it was interesting…” and I replied they were good today.  Amelia said “Wow, really? They were so crazy!”

Of course, I have seen groups of children in China.  They are so much better behave than groups of kids here.  But why is that?

In our group today once we were all gathered we had an interesting conversation about how certain people in the neighborhood see the Baha’is.  One girl mentioned that there was a woman in the neighborhood who is Chinese and Christian named Miss Big Bird. I checked with the girls that they weren’t making fun of her and that was her actual name.  They said that she has classes at their home every week where they sing songs and learn about virtues for the kids.  Apparently one of the junior youth told her that the  “Baha’i classes are more fun.”  Lupita, the one who was talking about Miss Big Bird, went on to say how many things were bothered by the other woman.  I should point out Lupita is a JY but she has assisted with children’s classes before.

I didn’t want to create disunity with others serving in the neighborhood, and I didn’t want Lupita thinking that the services we are trying to do are different.  I tried to change the subject to focus on our own qualities and how we can improve ourselves using everything we know.  I also wanted to point out that the classes were for everyone no matter what they believe, and we happen to be Baha’i but people who are not are welcome to learn with us.

We know that when the Baha’is are making an impact, people will rise up against what we are doing.  I’ve heard only a few stories of individuals in the neighborhood saying things against us.  It seems that these kids so far are happy to be with us and do not pay attention to what others say about the activities.  I pray for their strength and steadfastness against peer pressure and the pressures of the society around them.