VOLUNTEERS IN ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL CHANGE

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Until last spring, I had no idea what Generation X meant.

There I was, a Peace Corps volunteer in a small North African country, when a friend's letter informed me that we-our generation of young adults-comprised a group called Generation X. We were stereotyped as whiners, burdens on our parents and disillusioned underachievers.

I have since returned stateside and have had an opportunity to look at the situation of us Xers. We all know how difficult it is to portray an entire demographic accurately, but my perception of Generation X differs from that of the stereotype.

Of course, there is disillusionment among Xers. Times are tougher now, and the challenges we face are more daunting. Let's face it, this is not the "Free Love" '60s.

We don't get a sense of home from our government and the economy. A good education does not guarantee a good job or a secure future.

But on the whole I believe we in Generation X are positive individuals. We want to solve the problems in today's America, like making our streets safe and fighting racism. We bear the responsibility of cleaning up the financial, social and environmental mess created before us.

For this reason, I believe many Xers have taken roles in social work, environmental science and volunteerism.

It's important to know that Generation Xers are a highly diverse group. Perhaps what's so difficult about understanding Generation X is acknowledging and dealing with our vast diversity, both in racial makeup and personal interests.

You can't expect to appeal to a diverse group when working from stereotypes. Generation X is a group of individuals with individual opinions, dreams and desires, and should be treated as such.

Hezekiah White, 25, lives in Albuquerque, N.M., and is a community service worker.

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