Last Sunday, I took off from home to partake in the International Youth Day 2018 celebrations at Coronation Park, where Youth Caring Community (YCC) in collaboration with Nazhoen Lamtoen, was organizing the first ever National Youth Awards. It was a lazy Sunday for me and I had time to kill.
The other reason why I went was because I had worked with youth for the past 13 years, the present year being an exception, and some of the guys with whom I worked would certainly be there. It would be nice to catch up with them.
So, 2 pm found me going around the different stalls; FabLab, Kuzoo FM, Camp RUF, MStudio, READ Bhutan to name a few. Even Bhutan Street Library was there. I glimpsed Norbu Gyaltshen of Gyaltshen Photography and Nurse Tashi Choden, two young and talented people with whom I have volunteered for some good causes. Even today they take time off from their work to render community services voluntarily.
Tandin Tshering who is currently a teacher in Zhemgang area, was also there to receive an award in the Group category for a project that he is still undertaking with young people, to whitewash and revive hundreds of stupas that were being neglected by the community.
The large gathering of youth, parents and supporters in the likes of Dasho Benji, Dasho Sangay Khandu, Mr. Michael Rutland, Actor Sonam Choki, Azha Karma, and others I couldn’t name highlighted the importance that was placed on youth. I also saw a few other familiar faces. While I was not able to place names to their faces, I gave them sweet smiles.
I spent nearly two hours getting lost in the crowd and applauding the numerous performance’s onstage; rap, hip hop, rigsar, boedra, etc. And they were all speaking to us Adults, Parents, Teachers, to Bhutan, to the World. They were voicing their feelings, passions and dreams. Of all the songs and dances, four caught my attention and wrung my heart. I could see my children’s voice in them.
Nala, speaking his heart out, speaking against our complacent nature in his Pelden Drukpi bu. We preach, but do we practice? I was not hurt by his bold statements, instead I accepted it. I listened as he took me through my own life; my growing up among 8 siblings, experimenting with tobacco and alcohol, about my career as a teacher at the age of 21 and still being lost, about how I failed to ‘walk the talk’, all the advises I gave to my students while living a double life. Outside I was a model teacher and a strict discipline but inside I was a struggling lonely alcoholic trying to find my place in the society. And also, he reminded us of how every adult is always living a double life. Nala was actually reinforcing the idea that Youth are the custodians of the future, and we Adults should show to them by example.
Chimi Nangsel Dorji, asking Gachi lo about what all youth aspire for, to move forward in live, wanting to live a carefree life, leaving the past behind, never looking back. About not wanting to be live like everyone else but wanting to be different. About wanting to being Individual not homogeneous. And calling out to all to be ‘the sunlight’ and move on. And never to give up in the rain. This is what youth dream about, to live carefree yet follow their dreams.
Jurmey Choden Rinzin, sharing about being Bhutanese in heart in her Sharchokpa ngang thur. The fact that this song had ‘tshangla’ lyrics excited me more. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you’re always gonna be a Bhutanese by heart. You may go out into the world and experience a different life, but in your heart, you will always remain a Bhutanese. And you will never forget your roots. This is a message and assurance from her voicing the youth. Many youths go outside Bhutan to study, and work. But they always return home. They will always return home.
Kezang Dorji, asking for a gokab, a chance was the icing on the cake. He was asking for an opportunity to prove himself, to prove themselves. All they want is a chance, a platform. They would like their parents, teachers, society to let them show their talents. They would like us to listen to them for once. After all it is their life, and they would want to be what that aspire to be. Stop smothering us, they beg of us.
And it is time WE listen. They have the talent. They have the numbers. They have the dreams. They need space. They need chance. And they need support. From us.
So not the typical love songs.