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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 June 2007, 02:47 GMT 03:47 UK
The Falklands: Generation next
Interviewees at FI Community School

By Paula Dear
BBC News

Memories of the bloody battles seen on the Falkland Islands in 1982 are bound to be fading. Many of those who were children then now have children of their own. What do today's youngsters feel about the place in which they live and what are their thoughts on the future?

Life can be muddling enough for a teenager, but for 15-year-old Pamela D'Avino, coming from Argentina and living in the Falklands can leave her feeling somewhat torn.

With the long slow build-up to the conflict's 25th anniversary commemorations in June, Pam says things feel a bit "tense".

The teenager - who moved to the Falklands aged six with her Argentine father and her mother, a local - says being born in Buenos Aires can makes things "difficult".

You could walk around with a big wad of cash here and not worry
Ariane Goss, 11

"You get the odd people bringing it up sometimes".

"I'd stick up for the Falklands, but I'd stick up for Argentina too. It's just so weird and confusing."

But, chips in her classmate Tom Burston, there's "nothing wrong with the Argentine people, it was the government of the time that was wrong".

Tom and Pam have gathered in a classroom with four other pupils from the islands' secondary school, which caters for about 160 children aged 11-16.

One of their history teachers is writing a unit on the Falklands conflict, which will have to fit in with the UK curriculum the school follows. To date there has been no formal teaching of the war, although the school is required to inform the children about the principle of self-determination.

Tom Burston, 16, born Falkland Islands
Pamela D'Avino, 15, born Argentina; lived in Falklands for nine years
Nadia Arkhipkina, 15, born Russia; lived in Falklands for nine years
Murray Middleton, 13, born UK; lived on islands for four years
Nick Roberts, 12, born Falkland Islands
Ariane Goss, 11, born Falkland Islands

But for the most part the group are not giving the Falklands conflict much thought at all. They are simply getting on with the job of being teenagers.

There are probably few places in the world where you won't hear young people complain that the place in which they live is "boring".

"There's nothing to do down here," says Pam.

"In bigger countries you get clubs for kids from the age of 10. We'd just like a small café to chill out in."

Murray Middleton, 13, is from the UK and has lived on the islands for four years. Some aspects of life here are "more fun" he says, but he explains that going to the cinema involves a 35-mile (56km) drive to use the facilities at the British military base south of Stanley.

"But the films come out three months after they come out in England. Sometimes they are already out on DVD before they come here."

The government keeps planning something else for youngsters to do, says Nick Roberts, 12, "but they don't do anything about it".

Sign saying "Welcome to Stanley, twinned with Whitby"
The children often make comparisons with the UK

Comparisons with the UK crop up regularly.

"There's kids in England who complain if there's one night they can't go to a club!" says Nick.

"And they've got amusement arcades, skate parks and everything...," adds Murray.

But it does later transpire that a building set aside for young people to meet in - albeit opposite the police station in Stanley - has recently been closed due to vandalism.

Boredom often leads to underage smoking and drinking, the group says.

"Most of the kids my age are smoking," says 11-year-old Ariane.

'No safety worries'

So far, so teenage. But there are notable differences between this group and the typical British youth.

When asked what they like about living in Stanley they all agree that safety is one of the biggest plus points.

Children can stay out late at night and "not worry about being robbed or stabbed".

Mobile phone thefts do not happen, bullying is not an issue and no-one carries knives, they say.

"This is the closest we get," laughs Tom, brandishing a plastic fork.

You'd be crazy not to want to come back here
Tom Burston, 16

Ariane adds: "You could walk around with a big wad of cash here and not worry."

As we speak there has been a recent spate of stabbings on Britain's streets. The children watch UK news and soap operas, and are well aware of what's going on 8,000 miles north.

"It freaks you out. You see it every day that another kid's been stabbed," says Ariane.

Their interest does not simply stem from the familial, political and historical connections they have with Britain. One day soon most, if not all, of them will have to move to the UK to continue their education beyond GCSE-level.

The Falklands does not have the population or infrastructure to cater for higher or further education, although every child's studies is funded by the islands' government.

About half continue beyond 16 each year and the school has a close relationship with two colleges in Winchester and Chichester, which cater for the vast majority of Falklands pupils.

Tom, Pam and Russian-born Nadia Arkhipkina are the eldest and will be heading off soon if they make the grades.

[back, from left] Tom, Nick, Ariane, Nadia. [front, from left] Murray, Pam
Clockwise from front left: Murray, Tom, Nick, Ariane, Nadia and Pam - life is safe but can be boring.

While Pam will miss her family but be happy to leave the Falklands, Tom feels the opposite.

Nadia is planning to go to [Peter Symonds' Sixth Form College] Winchester: "I think I might do art. I think I'd miss my family a lot but it would be a new experience. I'd enjoy everything about it!"

The sheer isolation of the islands forces these youngsters into thinking about their future at a relatively young age.

Pam thinks she would like to live in the US but "come back for holidays" while Murray wants to be a lawyer and already has plans to flatshare with a mate in the UK.

A career in design is the choice for Nadia "but not down here. I would like France or Italy," she says.

Nick is not sure but knows he will always want to live by the sea and Ariane plans on becoming a history teacher in the Falklands.

As for Tom, he's pretty sure where he'll go once he has finished his studies: "You'd be crazy not to want to come back here, at least you won't get stabbed."

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