ALL students talk diversity

February 12, 2010

LIMA — Allen-Lima Youth Leadership students learned some good lessons Friday.

Give detailed directions to the elderly; try not to make a Baby Boomer feel old; and never described a Generation Xer as a slacker.

Friday’s all-day session on diversity went beyond just black and white, but also looked at generational differences.

“Generational issues have existed for years,” Jon Horn, executive director of workforce and economic development at Rhodes State College, told students after quoting a Socrates’ rant on all the things wrong with children and teens.

Horn advised how students can better communicate with those outside of their own Y Generation. Understand others in the context of generational differences, he told them.

“Commit to action you can take to strengthen your relationships,” he said. “A lot of times it just takes thought.”

Shared experiences help define generations, Horn said, WWII and the Great Depression for the “Veterans Generation,” The Vietnam War and Woodstock for the Baby Boomers and Watergate and the Challenger explosion for Generation X.

Generation Y, students agreed, are connected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and technology.

“Use text messaging as a means to send information,” Horn said of how to communicate with the young generation.

The four generations aren’t always different. Horn described a similar sense of civic duty and other characteristics for both the oldest and youngest generations. It’s caused by similar experiences, Horn said, World War II and the terrorist attacks both building more civic minded perspectives.

Generational differences, Horn said, aren’t the sole cause of all communication problems between people.

“It goes right back to personality,” he said. “What will I need to do to get along with this person? Generation might play into that. Racial diversity might play into that. But a lot of the time, it is just you and that person.”