We have migrated this blog across to http://www.reachout-project.org
Get it while it's hot!
The mini movie using sound recordings from participants can be accessed here.
You'll need speakers or headphones to get the audio.
Tip: Let it run for a while before clicking around the various groups. Whilst group 1 is playing, groups 2 & 3 are loading in the background.
Joining the group this morning was Belhassen Guettat (pictured left) and Allya Siska Nadya from the Tunisian branch of AIESEC.
AIESEC 'is the international platform for young people to discover and develop their potential so as to have a positive impact on society'.
Its purpose is to develop leadership skills within young people and offers international student exchange opportunities. The Tunisian branch has chosen to focus on two key areas; HIV / AIDS and Energy.
Belhassen and Allya gave a brief overview of what they do, and how to get involved. Belhassen summarises their work in the following audio excerpt. Click to play or Download belhassen_guettat_edit_mp3.mp3
With the official event over last night, it was time for some relaxation and fun. Peter Skelton, B.C country director, Tunisia, invited the entire group for a party at his house. It wasn't just the group present. In addition, representatives from the UK's foreign and commonwealth office turned up as well!Everyone had a lot of fun, with plenty of food and drink.
Target audience was identified as 'Peers' or 'People like us', aged 15 - 35. Still remaining is indecision about whether to feature all three languages; Arabic, English, and French. Or perhaps two, Arabic and English.
Agreed was that the platform should feature 'static' content such as:
The agreed deadline for this element is end of May 2006.
'Dynamic content' is designed to facilitate dialogue, and will take the form of:
Pukul Rana requested that those with existing blogs should send links direct to him.
Phil Batson, deputy head of mission, British embassy, Tunisia arrives at the event. The group is told that Britain's FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) are taking an interest in their work. Excitement grows when the subject of 'money' and 'availability' are mentioned. In short, the FCO are welcoming proposals from the group to enhance Arab / UK relations!
Ben Jones, recording engineer, UK was present to work with the three groups to teach basic audio editing principles. Having been equipped with the necessary equipment, individuals were asked to record their thoughts about the event to date. (This process mainly took place in the morning). Ben then demonstrated how to edit, with a view to producing a 10 second sample from each participant.
In a few days, a 'mini movie' summary will be produced, summarising participant views on the event (as at approximately 11am) on the final day.
One sample featured comes from Ghassan Essalehi. Click to play or Download ghassan_essalehi.mp3
He briefly outlined the work he's involved with and took questions from participants.
ICT's in develping countries are not about technology, but about the application of technology to specific local circumstances. One such example included a system where buses travelling through rural India offered the ability to send / receive email using wifi connections as it moved through the villages. Think of it like a postman who collects and delivers mail two to three times per day.
A major challenge with some of the new technologies come back to illiteracy in massive swathes of world. Equipping every town and village with internet connected computers won't solve problems if people can't read and write!
David Galipeau: First and foremost is content.
Raw data .... leads to .... Information .... leads to .... Knowledge.
Once the data becomes valuable knowledge, you reach the holy grail of producing a good web site.
Additionally, aim for participatory technologies. That is, not, simply a web site that displays text and images created as 'push' content. Look at the internet as a two way delivery mechanism, offering a whole range of tools for your disposal.
In answer to a question about media proliferation across the world, David outlined an example stating that 'Al Jazeera' (English language site) has finally gone global. It now provides channels across web, tv, and radio, with the potential to access a truly global audience. He foresees the major benefit being the ability to make more informed opinion based on a wider range of news sources, including U.S and European perspectives.
Images of participants below. Click to expand:
Following a night of Lebanese food and dancing lessons for the UK contingent by the NENA participants, the workshop reconvened ready for the final full day. The group was divided into three small groups, and began to discuss possible means of achieving the declared goal established yesterday.
The groups, in turn, learned to plan a project, podcast and to blog their views. The planning group examined the possibility of developing a website incorporating articles and contributions by reach out participants. Much discussion revolved around the content of the websites, including whether to attach the project to an existing website in order to widen the reach of the work.
Three posts above were composed by the group themselves as they learnt about blogging. Each one describes in their own words what happened during last night's excursion.
Group 3: Learning to Blog. Summary of the excursion from last night
The most important event on the second day was the sightseeing trip in the north of Tunis. We took a bus to Sidi Bou Said with bad music ringing in our ears, which Marouen managed to sleep through.
Arriving at Sidi Bou Said, we checked out the boats in the marina and all the stray cats, which Emily wanted to take home and feed. Alex was in full paparazzi mode. We headed up the hill to the town of Sidi Bou Said, full of traditional Tunisian houses and shops painted white with blue trim and ornate doors and curved windows. There we stopped and had a quick "the au pignons" at the Sidi Chabaane Cafe. It had spectacular views of the bay below. In the distance the lights of the main city sparkled on the horizon. As the sun set our stomachs began to growl and we headed to dinner.
Food glorious food. Lots of it. We dug into Lebanese dishes like hummous and pita. Emily stuffed her face, it's true, as did we all. The atmosphere was lively, with live Tunisian music coming from a keyboard player. The entire group, led by our Alaa, danced "dabka," a traditional dance of the Near East. Even the awkward Brits. Ghassan was especially fascinated with the airplanes flying low overhead and he spent the whole night waiting for a plane to photograph.
At the end of the night we all headed home, exhausted and bursting at the seams.
Group 2: Learning to Blog. Summary of the excursion from last night
After a little rest at the hotel it was off to Sidi Bou Said, (on a coach). Lots of traffic, but fun was had, singing!, laughing! Excellent renditions of BBC News thanks to Alex with his famous BBC voice!
Stopped off at the marina for some nautical fun: admired the speedboats. Lots of photo opportunities down by the sea. Ghassan's flash turned the harbour whiter! Which was the best boat? Opinion was divided! Off to explore the town.
Walk throught the winding streets, all blue and white to cafe Sidi Shaba'n. The cafe's built into the cliff, no tables, just long benches! Amazing views of the bay, marina, and the sea! Nut tea, yum! Ready for some food by now.
Arrive at the
Tunisian Syrian Lebanese restaurant. Greeted by a little stuffed chicken at the door, and a gecko! Planes flying overhead, close enough to touch! So hungry we could have eaten Pukul, Matt and Brieg by the time they finally arrived, closely followed by the starters. Are they starters or mains? Who knows?!!!! :) :( ? Oh look the main's are here, eat them. Now so full, full to the brim, but dance!
The musician could hardly keep up with our energetic dancing. He was looking forward to his bed as much as us! But the other diners gave us strange looks, as we snaked through the restaurant in a conga line! Time to sleep, what a great night!! :) Goodnight, and goodbye.
Group 1: Learning to Blog. Summary of the excursion from last night
After a long and productive day, we headed for the classy suburb of Sidi Bou Said, dominated by typically Tunisian white and blue architecture.
Mint tea was drunk on a terrace overlooking the Mediterreanean harbour, we even visited a panoramic private roof terrace, thanks to Marouen's insistence and personal contacts!
At the Lebanese Restaurant, tensions and appetites rose as we waited for the arrival or our facilitators. When the starters eventually came, they were in such abundance that they were mistaken for the main course. In the background, two Yamaha keyboards and a Tunisian crooner provided the soundtrack to various styles of dancing from the 'dabki' to the 'funky chicken'. At first the Arabs made a show of the Brits, but this was soon compensated for by the winners of the best dancer competition, Amna and Pukul.
The photos tell a better story than the words...
Cultural understanding on a whole new level.
Common themes emerging from groups include:
Broadly speaking, the group has agreed on a common goal. That is:
'Cultural understanding through increased direct interaction'.
In essence, this is about establishing platforms to facilitate direct communication between peers, with scope for expansion as the network grows.
Ghassan Essalehi, student, Morocco outlined personal goals from his own perspective. Click to play or Download ghassan_essalehi_edit_mp3.mp3
Both sides of the UK / Arab contingent agreed on the following problems, seen in both NENA and Western countries:
A few aspirational characteristics from both sides of the group:
Are Arabs bigoted, lazy, women bashing, hospitable?
Are Westerners Islamophobic, promiscuous, caucasian, openminded etc?
A few stereotypes of Arab culture. (Click image to expand):
A few stereotypes of Western culture. (Click image to expand):
Following the earlier 'back to basics' debate, participants have been split into four randomised groups to their hone thoughts on the following:
If there was one attitude you could change in your own society, what would it be?
Amri Malika, law student, Tunisia wanted to see the following taboos lifted in her country. Click to play or Download amri_malika_edit_mp3.mp3
Name one characteristic about another country's society that you would like to aspire to?
Sarah Taylor, Oxford University, UK, likes some of the Kenyan personality traits. Click to play or Download sarah_taylor_edit_mp3.mp3
What are your stereotypes of Arab and Western European societies? (Write down the characteristics that summarise each group).
Nader Houella, Red Cross, Lebanon, had some generally positive stereotypes about both groups. Click to play or Download nader_houella_edit_mp3.mp3
During final discussions between the group yesterday, it was felt that there exists some fundamental lack of mutual awareness between participants. This was reflected by differing expectations of what the final project might be. Those who vocalised their ideas from NENA (Near East North Africa) favoured a more 'field based' approach. Some UK based participants preferred developing an online solution.
Once a project has been defined, the BC board will be approached for appropriate funding. Approximately 12 months for project development. The role of the British Council currently is to support a network focused around inter-cultural dialogue. Project ideas should come from participants. BC feels that there must be agreement between the group on ideas before any project is actually implemented. Think 'Goals' rather than 'projects' to come out of this event.
Tunisia country director, Peter Skelton added to the debate by emphasising the need for dialogue. an understanding of each other is instrumental in fostering cooperation as opposed to conflict based on misunderstanding. Projects that provide 'bricks and mortar' results are important, yet even these are built on firm foundations of dialogue.
How realistic is it that everybody will have access to the web? And those that do have this access or availability, are they really using it to engage in projects; constructive development; or even making a change outside their environment?
What about the digital divide? Over the years the availability of computers at affordable prices have increased in the North Afirca and Middle East, however there still remains a digital divide within these areas as costs are increasing, however the knowledge is not.
What about working with our existing NGO's? They may be a potential partners however there remains an issue arond the funding; who's going to finance development?
Who are we engaging with? What do we want to say? What kind of dialogue will take place?
One practical example: Nabyl (featured earlier) from Morocco told the group about building a school. It is staffed by volunteers and was funded through music gigs and festivals.
Whatever happens, any final project established at the end of this event will certainly ICT's with face to face interaction.
It seems likely that the group will look at some form of web based system to facilitate true interaction between one another. The 'target audience' will likely be our peers!
Click to download his short audio summary here.Download ben_ryder_edit_mp3.mp3
Individuals have started to really explore ideas of where they feel there are gaps with existing structures. For example, sharing cultural experiences through an 'e-zine'; training other young people in practical IT skills.
There still remains a need for the groups to think more practically - we all want to make the world a better place, but the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.
Lucinda Duxbury, student, Oxford University, summarised the thoughts of her group in this short audio excerpt. Download lucinda_duxford_mp3_edit.mp3
In group skills include:
- Language translation, enthusiasm.
- Technical skills for media production, Structuring the written English word.
Following a presentation from each group on the role of international and local organisations, discussion proceeded to address individual experiences, as Nader's contribution illustrates.
The other interesting factors that have been highlighted were the 'real' obstacles individuals face when trying to implement change, for example teaching computer literacy when you have no computers for individuals to learn on; the solution is 'draw it on the black board'.
The worry is that even though governments are implementing change programmes, they have not really thought it through. With providing the financial support and official leverage, governments also are responsible for the implementation and that it's done in a positive way.
Not all government initiatives are reaching the people most in need, there are a number of projects in Africa which have been run to help develop a country's infrastructure however this does not neccesarily answer the local issues. For example government decisions take place in the corridors of power, yet it takes upto five years before some people in rural areas have electricity - why?
Other individual experiences of dealing with international organisations were menitoned, including intercultural networking in deprived areas in the UK.
Participants illustrated links with religious organisations active in society, with the possible benefits, limitations and problems of such interaction addressed.
British Council, United Nations, Junior Achievement International, EuroMed, CSV (Community Service Volunteering, CCRP (Centre for Conflict Resolution and Peace Building), Red Cross Youth Movement, Muslim Council of Britain, IndyMedia, and more.
One of the groups felt that developmental organisations' effectiveness was influenced by their composition, agendas, funding, community reach, amongst other factors.
One participant, Nader Houella, Red Cross, Lebanon, had a few words on his own work. Download nader_houella_mp3_edit.mp3
The opening session was a review of developments since November 2005 and concentrated on issues and themes that have arisen individuals' personal perspective.
Click this link to Download nabyl_morocco_mp3_edit.mp3 .
Empower your generation!
reach out is a British Council project bringing together young Arabic and English speakers, from North Africa, Middle East and the UK, between 13 – 30 years of age. By online and face-to-face discussions, reach out enables these young people to share their concerns, issues and recommendations on topics linked to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in Tunis in November 2005.
The purpose of reach out is:
To provide young people with an opportunity to voice their opinions about WSIS related issues – cultural diversity, the digital divide, Internet governance, media freedom and e-learning / employment - in a safe and dynamic environment.
To build and support collaboration between youth networks across North Africa, Middle East and UK.
To develop a reach out community able to deliver sustainable projects with tangible outcomes
To encourage reach out participants to become advocates for change in their local communities
As part of the continued development of the reach out community, there will be a workshop in British Council Tunisia on 28 – 30 March 2006. The workshop will combine physical and virtual activities, to enhance the reach out community’s ability to deliver tangible and sustainable projects.
We would like you to get involved; express yourself via this blog and help empower a generation!
About the BRITISH COUNCIL
Our purpose is to build mutually beneficial relationships between people in the UK and other countries and to increase appreciation of the UK’s creative ideas and achievements.
This work is driven by a strong belief in internationalism, a commitment to professionalism and an enthusiasm for creativity; and we are a non-political organisation that operates at arm’s length from government. These qualities, coupled with our conviction that cultural relations can help individuals and the world community to thrive, make the British Council an excellent partner with whom to work. (www.britishcouncil.org)
The UN World Summit on the Information Society provides a unique opportunity for all key stakeholders to develop a common vision and understanding and to address the whole range of relevant issues related to the Information Society. It aims to bring together Heads of State, Executive Heads of the United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, civil society entities, industry leaders and media representatives to foster a clear statement of political will and concrete plan of action to shape the future of the global information society. Phase I of WSIS was held in Geneva on 10-12 December 2003 and Phase II will be held in Tunisia from 16-18 November 2005. (www.wsis.org)