Mastering the art of teen communication with cilantro (blech!) and yoga
By Ilana Olin
Don’t get lost in the chaos.
In the hustle and bustle of modern day society, many individuals with their unique stories and perspectives are lost in the midst of chaos. I never fully grasped this importance to not get lost in the chaos for teenagers. Teens are on a quest of exploration and self-identification, this I have read in textbooks and articles, but viewing it firsthand has heightened my awareness of this need to be recognized as worthy, as significant, as an individual.
This realization occurred as a result of my short time interning at VOX. I am in my second semester of graduate school in which I am pursuing a master’s in social work and a master’s in public health at The University of Georgia. In the beginning of this semester, I was placed at VOX Teen Communications for my field placement—a required direct service portion of my social work degree. Even though I am a native Atlantan, receiving the placement selection form was the first time I heard of, or rather read about VOX.
I entered this field placement with zero experience working with the adolescent population and, frankly, I was nervous and secretly a little scared. However, after conducting a fun afternoon of yoga and a blindfolded exotic and nutritional food tasting workshop with the teens, I no longer feared the unknown. In response to the teens’ interest, we have continued the nutrition and yoga workshops and even performed yoga postures in Centennial Park with, to some of the teens’ embarrassment, an audience of surprised and curious bystanders.
Amidst the postures, which often provoked uncontrollable laughter among the teens, and tasting cilantro and cumquats, which provoked sounds of disgust, the mission of VOX still was ever-present. These silly, yet educational workshops, acted as a means for the teens to explore new avenues, for the teens to understand their minds and bodies and how food and exercise can both positively and negatively affect them, to determine their stance, their choice, and their voice through these activities.
Working at VOX and facilitating community outreach workshops, I have witnessed the importance of one’s voice and, furthermore, of empowering each teen to recognize his or her significance through a story.
Every person has a voice—an experience truly unique from all others—that should be cherished by not only close friends and family members, but by society at large. This is VOX’s mission: to provide a medium for teen voices, experiences, and inquiries to be heard. This medium allows teen writers to ask the questions that may seem controversial; questions that most do not want teens asking; questions that conservative society may sometimes try to conceal and ignore.
Being a teenager is hard enough. Why should we further toughen the adolescent experience by discounting and discouraging the curious nature associated with the developmental stage?
Regardless of political or religious orientation, the self-exploratory process of adolescence should not be stunted. According to psychologist Erik Erikson, the founding father of the theory of psychosocial personality development, all adolescents will go through a period of “identity formation.” The process of identity formation is characterized by curiosity and experimentation; for, how will one discern what works, what fits into one’s identity, without trying it out first.
At VOX, these questions are asked, answered, and first handedly experienced through systematic journalistic research means and through direct exposure and experimentation as evidenced in the yoga workshops. VOX readers share many of the same inquiries and VOX is simply doing all readers and writers a service by providing insights and shared experiences for teens, troubled or not, to read. In this way, VOX is not only an outlet for teens to explore their curious nature, but also a resource to all those teens searching for the same answers.
At VOX, the exploration of the self, of the many voices we all have, continues.