#11 youth
Kate Müser

Taking the Pulse of Youth Culture

From the committed blood donor in Nigeria to the German rock musician, Deutsche Welle's weekly radio magazine "Pulse" introduces you to individuals having an impact – both in Europe and beyond – and checks the heartbeat of youth today.

Twenty-five-year-old Abdullahi Idris in Abuja, Nigeria was afraid of needles. But watching his mother go through the traumatic births of his younger siblings made him aware of a great need in his area: Hospitals don't have enough donated blood on reserve. So the young man faced his phobia and paid a visit to the local blood bank in Abuja – and went back again and again. By the time he turned 25, Abdullahi had donated his blood 25 times, saving the lives of not only pregnant women in his community, but also those undergoing surgeries.

Abdullahi wanted to make an even bigger difference, so he founded Club 25, encouraging young people in Abuja to do what he had done: 25 blood donations by their 25th birthday. He and his friends certainly won't be stopping at 25.

Here's more on Abdullahi's story:

It's not possible to count the number of lives Abdullahi has already saved. But by bucking the trends his Generation Y has set, his impact has an even broader relevance. Abdullahi is not aiming to get the corner office on the top floor or drive the newest, loudest sports car. Instead, he's giving to others. And that's what makes him part of "Generation Change," 20-somethings who are committed to making a difference.

The motivation for doing good

Generation Change is a weekly, multimedia series profiling young people from all over the world – from the US to China, or back here in Germany – who are sacrificing their time and energy to make a difference socially, culturally or politically. Each five-minute Generation Change report is featured in Deutsche Welle's weekly English-language radio magazine, "Pulse" (www.dw.de/pulse) and on the Generation Change blog (blogs.dw.de/generationchange), where users can get more information about the protagonists and their projects and share comments. The audio reports are also available for free as podcasts on iTunes.

For Abdullahi in Abuja, it was concern for his own mother that motivated him to make a change in his community; for Zhao Zhong in Gansu, China, it was a near-death experience. He was mountain climbing with a friend in Tibet when he fell down a three-storey crevice in the ice. Waiting 33 hours to be rescued, he carved his name in the glacier and pondered the nearness of death – and how he wanted to make the most of every day of his life.

Zhao Zhong

Zhao Zhong, 29, had always been an outdoor enthusiast, but his accident made it clear to him that he urgently wanted to make even more significant, lasting changes. In Gansu, that meant raising awareness among residents for how severe water pollution had become in their region. Zhao Zhong started publishing a water pollution map and actively lobbying against the steel factories, coal mines and petrochemical plants that deposit their waste in his home region.

The Generation Change series is a weekly dose of positive news – a sharp contrast to most of the headlines we read and bulletins we hear.

The Generation Change series is a weekly dose of positive news – a sharp contrast to most of the headlines we read and bulletins we hear. But while the young people featured in the series are exceptional, the work they do in their local communities is tangible and something "Pulse" listeners can relate to, no matter what their background is. This means the stories in Generation Change can motivate listeners, and encourage them to get out and take action.

When I grow up I want to be a ...

With a target listenership of 15-to-25-year-olds, "Pulse" uses DW's unique vantage point from the heart of Europe to offers insights from the continent on education, career planning and youth employment, but also on lifestyle trends and music.

In Germany, mandatory military service for young men was abolished in 2011 and the public school curriculum has been shortened from 13 years to 12. That means German universities are currently faced with a flood of applications – and housing in university towns is in short supply. It also means that young people are having more difficulties finding opportunities for vocational training and employment. These key issues are among those covered in-depth on "Pulse."

Despite the obstacles when it comes to finding a place to study and work, young German graduates are more likely to get jobs than their European counterparts. In countries like Portugal, Italy and Greece, youths are tossing out their degrees in political science or comparative literature and taking on practical jobs like baking or tailoring, or starting barter exchange programs that do away with money altogether.

Or, like Portuguese engineer Pedro Santos, they are going abroad. Pedro read in the newspaper that there were job openings in the small German town of Schwäbisch Hall. He wasn't the only one to read the article: 15,000 people sent emails to the town's employment office asking for a job. After a series of applications and interviews, Pedro eventually got lucky.

Now, he has an office on the fourth floor in the main office of Ziehl-Abegg, a German company that builds electrical ventilators and motors. Pedro is grateful to have a well-paying job, but he misses the ocean and the fish in his home country, and is struggling to improve his German language skills. Whether they live in Canada, Argentina or Kenya, many "Pulse" listeners know first-hand what it's like to start over in a new country. According to the feedback emails DW receives, many others are considering making that major step, and personal stories like Pedro's can open new perspectives.

Listen to Pedro's story here:

Even more personal insights on how European youths are creatively coping with the euro crisis can be found in DW's award-winning multimedia special, "Plan B – Youthful Solutions to the Crisis" (www.dw.de/planbenglish).

Everyone knows Justin Timberlake, Pink and Lady Gaga. But who are the latest voices coming out of Germany?

Getting your beat on

"Pulse," however, is certainly not all work and no fun. And, no matter which country you live in, fun almost always has something to do with music.

Everyone knows Justin Timberlake, Pink and Lady Gaga. But who are the latest voices coming out of Germany, and which beats are flowing through the earphones of your average 20-year-old in Hamburg or Munich?

"Pulse" regularly plays current hits from the top of the German charts and profiles big names that come through, like Deichkind, Cody Simpson and Asaf Avidan. But, more importantly, "Pulse" features Germany's home-grown, up-and-coming talent.

After years of German musicians practicing their "th" to make their English-language songs accessible to an international audience, more and more young German bands are returning to their native language.

One band, the Alex Mofa Gang, which recently performed live in the "Pulse" studio, has found an even closer connection to the German language. Lead singer Sascha Hörold wrote a novel that accompanies his character, Alex Mofa, over a decade, beginning in his mid-20s with the end of a long relationship. Alex strives for greatness and longs for love, but finds himself distracted by bars and strange beds, fame and Sunday night television. There's something in the story that any 20-something can relate to.

Creatively linking words and music, the band's new album is the soundtrack to the book, which is set to be officially released in January 2014.

Off air in the Pulse studio, the Alex Mofa Gang explained the meanings behind their colourful tattoos and Sascha confessed that the novel – titled "Die Reise zum Mittelmaß der Erde" (Journey to the Mediocrity of the Earth), a play on Jules Verne's "Journey to the Center of the Earth" – was his first literary effort. Music, on the other hand, has accompanied him all his life.

Listen to the interview here:

Despite the geographical and cultural distance, what The Alex Mofa Gang, Pedro Santos and Zhao Zhong have in common is an inner passion that drives them to achieve and have an impact on their surroundings. And getting to the heart of the individual is at the heart of "Pulse."

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