The University of St. Thomas is lucky to have engaged students who want to be the best leaders they can be. Every year, the Departments of Campus Life, Residence Life, Student Engagement and the Anderson Student Center host the three-day Fall Leadership Institute for undergraduate students. The institute challenges students to think critically about their own leadership style and how they can advance the common good.
This year, keynote speaker Cori Wallace talked to students about the importance of values and how to use their values in their leadership on campus. As a part of her speech, Wallace showed a powerful video clip called “Lost Generation” that was created for the AARP U@50 video contest. The contest asked for video submissions by people between the ages of 18 and 30 on the subject of what they expect their lives to be like at the age of 50.
The video opens with a poem painting a very bleak picture of what this generation’s future will look like: This “lost generation” will be self-centered with no concern for family life. People will value work, money and getting ahead above all else. They will not care about the environment or how they are leaving behind the earth for future generations. This generation is “apathetic and lethargic” and there is no reason for hope.
But this is not your average poem; it is a palindrome. When the video goes on to read the poem in reverse, it is a striking contrast to the dire message that was just relayed. The new message is one of hope, portraying a generation that values family and advancing the common good.
After the video finished, Woulfe Alumni Hall was left in silence with everyone taking in the message. Students later commented on how powerful, mind-blowing and inspiring the poem was to them.
This just goes to show that while there are a lot of people in society who might think this generation is “lost,” the truth is there are many young people, especially students at St. Thomas, who care about making this world a better place. Every day we have the opportunity to engage with these passionate students and be a part of their journey toward greatness. One day, they will change the world as long as they continue to have hope.