This past Friday I took my eighteen-year-old stepson, Dylan, to tour the University of Colorado (CU) at Boulder. He’s a high school senior and hoping to go to CU next year, which, apart from being a great school, is also Ralphie the buffalo’s turf. No joke, they have a real buffalo that leads the players onto the field at the beginning and second half of each football game.
Dylan and I didn’t see Ralphie, but we did see a stampede of students, some of whom were every bit as hulking as their bison mascot. We grazed on something of a different sort, something that fed my soul and his, a lecture on the globalization of gender that a neighbor professor of ours taught as part of an intro course for International Affairs.
We hadn’t know this was the day’s topic and that the lecture would begin by asking students to discuss the global platform adopted at the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing, in 1995 – an event I attended as part of a UNICEF delegation. Students saw horrific facts projected on a large screen, about female genital mutilation, rape as a weapon of war, and how one in seventeen women die in pregnancy or childbirth in developing countries. I noticed that the young men (nineteen-year-olds) seemed as concerned as their female counterparts, although both sexes equally debated whether or not women should be singled out in the context of globalization. The class never reached consensus, and this is not a post about the issue of gender. It’s about Generation Y, those Twittering, texting-crazed young folks who also happen to care enough about the subjugation of women around the world. I kept looking at my muscular stepson, Dylan, during the lecture. He’s of this generation, too. His iPhone is ALWAYS glued to his hand but I find it hard to battle this appendage when he chooses to volunteer at a shelter for homeless women on Thanksgiving Day. We did this as a family; Dylan picked the activity.
I don’t relate to everything my stepson likes. He’s a sports nut and I’m not. Yet it was a proud feeling to share in this experience at CU, one that brought me back in time – to my own college days studying Women’s Studies and later, to UNICEF, advocating for women and girls around the world. On this day it felt like we had found common cause.
And then, feeling real nostalgia for college, I insisted we stop for ice cream on the way home. They didn’t have mocha chip fudge, the flavor that got me through many long nights and weekends at Northwestern, but coffee oreo was a good second. Dylan chose birthday cake, a perfect way to celebrate two worlds colliding