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TOPIC: young people

Society

A Refuge From China's Rat Race: The Young People Flocking To Buddhist Monasteries

Unemployment, stress in the workplace, economic difficulties: more and more young Chinese graduates are flocking to monasteries to find "another school of life."

JIAXING — It's already dawn at Xianghai Temple when Lin, 26, goes to the Hall of 10,000 Buddhas for the 5:30 a.m. prayer.

Still half-asleep, the young woman joins the monks in chanting mantras and reciting sacred texts for an hour. Kneeling, she bows three times to Vairocana, also known as the Great Sun Buddha, who dominates the 42-meter-high hall representing the cosmos.

Before grabbing a vegetarian breakfast in the adjacent refectory, monks and devotees chant around the hall to the sound of drums and gongs.

"I resigned last October from the e-commerce company where I had been working for the past two years in Nanjing, and joined the temple in January, where I am now a volunteer in residence," explains the young woman, soberly dressed in black pants and a cream linen jacket.

Located in the city of Jiaxing, over a hundred kilometers from Shanghai, in eastern China, the Xianghai temple is home to some 20 permanent volunteers.

Unlike Lin, most of them only stay for a couple days or a few weeks. But for Lin, who spends most of her free time studying Buddhist texts in the temple library, the change in her life has been radical. "I used to do the same job every day, sometimes until very late at night, writing all kinds of reports for my boss. I was exhausted physically and mentally. I felt my life had no meaning," she says.

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French City Outskirts Ablaze, Again: What's Different From 2005

Small, mobile and organized groups of young people full of violence and hatred for the police: an emerging movement a far cry from the "banlieues" riots in 2005.

-Analysis-

PARIS — In recent years, social unrest in France has taken on new forms, and colors, almost relegating violence in the urban outskirts to the background. "Red caps", "yellow jackets" and "black blocs" made the headlines, while the banlieues have seemed almost quiet since the 2005 riots sparked by the deaths of two teenagers who were hiding from the police. Sure, since then there have been plenty of clashes, but no riots, even during the strict lockdown in 2020.

But the powder keg was still there, and an all-too-familiar spark lit the fuse: police violence against a young man from the urban periphery. On Tuesday, an officer shot dead Nahel M., an unarmed 17-year-old of North African descent at a traffic stop north of Paris. Unrest erupted, with no signs of abating: According to the French interior ministry, 667 arrests have been made across France so far, as violence continues in Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Pau, Toulouse and Lille. Rioters faced off with police, as buildings and vehicles were torched and stores looted.

But some things have changed since 2005. Images posted on social networks, for instance, acted as an accelerant. "It all took off very quickly and very powerfully", noted a ministerial adviser. A single video of the incident — showing officers shooting Nahel M., in his car at point blank — has been seen and shared millions of times, spreading anger and fanning fury.

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Women, Life, Freedom: Iranian Protesters Find Their Voice

In the aftermath of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the morality police mid-September for not wearing her hijab properly, many Iranians have taken the streets in nationwide protests. Independent Egyptian media Mada Masr spoke to one of the protesters.

On September 16, protests erupted across Iran when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in custody after being arrested and beaten by morality police for her supposedly unsuitable attire. The protests, witnesses recount, have touched on all aspects of rights in Iran, civil, political, personal, social and economic.

Mada Masr spoke to a protester who was in the prime of her youth during the 2009 Green Movement protests. Speaking on condition of anonymity due to possible security retaliation, she walked us through what she has seen over the past week in the heart of Tehran, and how she sees the legacy of resistance street politics in Iran across history.

MADA MASR: Describe to us what you are seeing these days on the streets of Tehran.

ANONYMOUS PROTESTER: People like me, we are emotional because we remember 2009. The location of the protests is the same: Keshavarz Boulevard in the middle of Tehran. The last time Tehranis took to these streets was in 2009, one of the last protests of the Green Movement. Since then, the center of Tehran hasn’t seen any mass protests, and most of these streets have changed, with new urban planning meant to make them more controllable.

Remembering 2009 triggers many things, such as street strategies, tactics and the way we could find each other in the middle of the chaos. But this is us now, almost at the back. Up front, there are many younger people, especially girls. They are extremely brave, fearless and smart.

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Mexican Youth Turn To Urban Agriculture To Connect With Their Roots

When the pandemic disrupted livelihoods and supply chains, young urban Mexicans decided to learn to grow food themselves.

CUAUTITLÁN IZCALLI — Growing up in a concrete city of more than 5 million people, María de Lourdes Félix never thought she would harvest corn and worry about worms.

But during the pandemic lockdown in March 2020, the 32-year-old enrolled in an online three-month economics course offered by Instituto Mexiquense de la Juventud, a Mexican government agency. Inspired, 10 classmates started a project to plant and harvest corn, calling themselves Maizkali. They borrowed a piece of farmland that had been in one of their families for generations.

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Geopolitics
Hye-kwan Lee and Stanley Leung

A Bitter Road Back For Hong Kong Students Arrested During 2019 Protests

Thousands of students and young people were detained during Hong Kong's democracy protests in 2019. Now with criminal records, many are struggling to re-integrating into a changed society

HONG KONG — Shortly after his release from the Detention Center, Ah Tao received a phone call from his secondary school headmaster. The headmaster told the Hong Kong teenager that it might not be a good idea for him to continue his studies, and that there were some barista courses outside school he might as well try.

Tao did not respond to the suggestion, and hung up after a few pleasantries.

Back when he was arrested on the street in 2019, Tao had completed his third year, and the school promised to hold his place. However, they stated that if he committed any offenses again, he could be expelled. Tao was already prepared for such a phone call. At that moment, he felt strongly that he was just a young person who had broken the law, and even his school did not want him anymore.

In 2019, the Hong Kong government proposed an amendment bill on extradition that would allow the transfer of fugitives from between Mainland China and Hong Kong. The bill received widespread criticism, with fears it would hamper political dissent in Hong Kong and led to large-scale protests.

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Switzerland
Julie Rambal

(Even Older) Boomerang Children Weigh On Parents' Well-Being

More and more young and not-so-young people are returning home to live with their parents. A phenomenon which is hard on their aging parents.

GENEVA — Françoise, 71, couldn't have dreamt of a more complicated relationship with her 39-year-old daughter Sandra. They used to speak every day, and not a week would pass without them seeing one another. But their relationship changed last September when Sandra arrived and unpacked her suitcases after a break-up. "She stayed seven months. Hell!" sighs Françoise. "She never ceased to remind me that I am old and decrepit and that she can't stand my retired life. Worse, she didn't do anything around the house, despite the fact that she acted very autonomously. I found myself stuck with a 40-year-old teenager."

Françoise says her grown daughter, who wanted a child of her own, had been stung badly by her boyfriend who changed his mind at the last minute. "She took her anger out on me," the aging mother said. "I didn't dare to invite friends over for lunch if she so much as seemed to be in a bad mood. I felt obliged to constantly be at her disposal."

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Japan
Kondo Daisuke

Japan v. China: Who Has The Next 'Lucky' Generation?

TOKYO — Chinese boys and girls are often referred to as "Little emperor" or "Little princess." They grow up in surroundings with financial means where six adults are catering to their demands: they are the luckiest generation since the founding of modern China.

Yet few of them realize that there is an even luckier bunch of young people in a country not so far away: Japan. Why? For the simple reason that Japanese youngsters are a rare breed, that is there are so few of them, proportionally to the country's demography, that they can be compared to the number of pandas in China's Sichuan Province – a privileged species and "national treasure."

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China
Tang Lala

Turn Up The Volume, Music Festivals In China Flourish

BEIJING — Before 2000, public space in China dedicated exclusively to young people was basically non-existent. Rock-loving youngsters, for example, had nowhere to go except for a few small, dark bars. Woodstock represented an unattainable dream.

But times have changed since then. First the Midi Music Festival, one of China’s largest rock music festivals, was created in Beijing. Many others followed suit. Since 2007, solid festival brands such as the Modern Sky Music Festival and the Strawberry Music Festival, a three-day carnival, have toured different Chinese cities, introducing fashion elements and breaking down the boundaries between underground and pop music.

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India
Shuriah Niazi

In India, A Female Police Unit's Aggressive Anti-Rape Patrols

After the nation and world's attention turned to the plague of Indian gang rapes, a women-only police unit was founded in Bhopal with one central objective. Some say they go too far.

BHOPAL – This city in northern India recently launched the Nirbhaya Patrolling Mobile Service. This female patrol was named for the physiotherapy student who was gang-raped in New Delhi in 2012, Nirbhaya meaning fearless one. The squad consists of 6 female police officers and they patrol the city in a van from early in the morning until late in the evening.

According to India’s Crime Records Bureau, the state of Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of rape cases in 2011. “India is not a safe place for half of the population,” says Inspector General SK Jha adding that the patrol aims to lower that number.

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Israel
Shay Asperil

Can An Apprenticeship System Solve Israel's Crisis Of Over-Educated Unemployed

TEL AVIV — A record number of undergraduate students will get their degrees this year. But what awaits them isn't pretty: job insecurity, bosses who are indifferent to what they studied, a shortage of jobs that match their education and talents, and big debts accumulated during their years at university. All of this suggests that perhaps we should rethink the conventional wisdom that a bachelor’s degree is necessary to get ahead in life.

There are nearly 300,000 students registered in Israel’s higher education institutions. Some (medical and architecture students, for example) have no other choice because the profession they’ve chosen requires a degree. But most students aren’t studying for a specific profession, but just to get a degree so they can say they have one.

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Tunisia
Elodie Auffray

Where Tunisia's Revolution Began, A Deep Chill Settles In On Arab Spring

SIDI BOUZID – In town to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire two years ago, Moncef Marzouki and Mustapha Ben Jaffar were greeted with stones and tomatoes.

The President of Tunisia and the Head of the National Constituent Assembly had to leave the stage that was set up for them in the center of Sidi Bouzid. "I understand this legitimate anger," President Marzouki told the crowd. "But the government has diagnosed the problem. In six months, a stable government will be in place and will provide the remedy to heal the country's problems."

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