I am so glad that the Youtube algorithm targeted me last week with something beyond the usual street food videos from Thailand or old MadTV comedy clips (my latest obsession).. and I am equally glad that I did not ignore it!
Yesterday when I casually clicked on this black and white Youtube video, I did not realize what a goldmine I was unearthing! Yes.. I landed on videos of debates and unrehearsed discussions (sometimes labeled “The world we want”) between International “High School Exchange Students” in New York City, in the 1950s. The students, one representing each country were invited to the US for 3 months, to stay with 3 different host families and attend multiple high schools during that period. They were all selected by their respective Ministries of Education via a nationwide competition in their countries.
This is the first one that I watched – about religion, featuring high school kids from Pakistan, India , Brazil and UK. The candor with which these high schoolers discussed this topic while being totally respectful to each other’s differences was mind blowing. When I grow up, I want to be just like these kids… 😊
These teenagers back in 1950s discussing a multitude of topics ranging from School uniforms, popular dances and dating to serious concepts like religion, prejudice, colonialism, Communism and Education systems so maturely just warmed up my heart! Such clarity of thought by the youngsters is so inspiring! These kids could teach a masterclass in polite debate and discussion to all our TV pundits. They are extremely honest and held nothing back. The moderator Mrs. Waller does a brilliant job by providing just the right amount of fuel for the discussion to thrive among the youngsters and jumping in as necessary to guide it along. One striking thing I observed was that most of these kids look much more mature (both physically and mentally) than their age.
I later found a total of 85 such clips (each ~27 mins long) in this archive, which I have already started binging (Yes.. they are very addictive. So, be forewarned!). The kids were slightly younger than my parents would have been at that time, and would have had a front row seat to – World war II, Colonialism, Independence to India and Malaya, formation of Israel, racial segregation, Communism and Cold war, etc. It’s like opening an amazing time capsule!
Scan through the entire list below and pick one that you would like to sample and see (with the gift of hind sight) if those kids managed to get the “World they wanted”!