An Interview with Mrs. Maral Deyirmenjian, Today's Youth

Depression, aggression, drop-outs, drugs, indifference are some of the traits that we see in a-not-so-small number of our youth today. We raised this important issue, and had an interview with Mrs. Maral Deyirmenjian, the principal of the Armenian Evangelical Central High School, to give answers to our questions and provide us her professional feedback.

(Interview by Raffi)

Raffi - Can you tell us about the differences that you see in the teenage students 10 years ago and the teenage students today?
Maral - Teenage students today have more distractions than what they had ten years ago: the accessibility of the internet at homes, ipods, MP3s, etc. come to entertain and distract the teenagers; these also interfere with their sleeping patterns. We often encounter students who have not slept more than four hours and come to class out of focus and exhausted.

The teenagers today are living in a hedonistic society; meaning, they are surrounded by a society that values pleasure over other personal values; this is a major obstacle in their pursuit of academic excellence, which is often the result of self-discipline and hard work.

Raffi - What are the needs of the teenagers and what kind of of challenges do they face today?
Maral - Teenagers need guidance, in my opinion. As Rousseau has stated, adults have to be “loving distant guardians”. We need to help them to develop their personalities and become independent individuals.

Raffi - What do the schools and churches do and need to do more, to help our teenagers regarding these challenges and needs?
Maral - The schools and churches have to be aware about the problems and challenges our youth are facing. We need to get to know them more intimately and give them the assurance that we understand their problems and are here to help them to find their own solutions for the problems they are facing.

Raffi - The Amish community is know that the parents allow their teenagers to try the outside life for a year, after which they ask their sons and daughters whether they want to stay in their community or leave. Do you agree that we need to leave the teenagers to try the life they want for themselves?
Maral - Whether we leave them to try or not, they will be trying it to find their own way. The experimentation is a normal process in the path of maturation in the stage of adolescence. What we can do is to keep an eye on them, let them know that we are here when they need us and we are praying or them. There is a verse in the Bible that I treasure: “Put all things to test: keep what is good and avoid every kind of evil.” 1 Thess. 5: 21

Raffi - What kind of suggestion and advice would you give the youth workers and leaders who work with the teenagers?
Maral - My advice to the youth workers is love your youth, love them, love them…

Raffi - What would you like to say to the teenagers today?
Maral - You are not alone, God is nearer to you than you think!