In May 2018, the Amateur Astronomers Association of Guyana held its first essay competition. The grand prize was the giveaway of a beginner’s telescope, which was awarded to a vibrant young mind, 18-year-old Omari Joseph. Other submissions came from Sigourney Ross, Esther Duff, and Tazim Baksh, who all wrote wonderful and insightful essays. As the Founder of the Association, I wish to thank all of them for their participation and I would like to share their message with the public because I believe it is important.
A common theme in all the essay submissions, from Georgetown to New Amsterdam, is that Guyana must, one way or another, provide resources to reinforce and expand on local curiosity which is fundamentally important to numerous sectors of national development – from science to the creative industries. Secondly, they identified a pastime like astronomy as a possible method of pushing back against feelings of futility and hopelessness, a feeling which is clearly plaguing many youths in the country – as attested to by the high suicide rate.
I agree with these young people and I’d like to reiterate their call for better resources. We are fortunate to be living in the information age which can also spark and satisfy one’s curiosity. However, it has also created an attachment to screens and second-hand information with the result that the social aspect of learning, – human interaction – is lacking.
We must pay attention to how young people see their world and what we, as adults, with our own respective privileges, abilities, and talents, can do to change the conditions that are preventing them from becoming who they truly want to be. And we cannot affect change in a manner of scolding, nor should we fall entirely hopeless in despair.
What confronts us are two possibilities: either we build the future we want to see, little by little, or we sit back and watch it crumble without a glimmer of hope because we refuse to pour resources to projects that really matter.
Ferlin F Pedro