Monthly Archives: May 2013

Media Buffer Zone Project – Raising Capacities of Civil Society for the Production of Multimedia in Cyprus, the Middle East and South East Europe

As a follow up to winning the audience award for best project idea at the Power of One Conference held in Nicosia, Cyprus in October 2012, the Media Buffer Zone Project team was invited to present and workshop their innovative project at the “POINT2013 – Political Accountability and New Technologies Conference” held in Sarajevo 23-26 May 2013.

 

Now you may be asking yourself what does this prestigious “unconference” featuring many fascinating speakers such as UZROK from Serbia, Milica Begović of UNDP-Montenegro, “The Facebook Girl of Egypt”, Esraa Abdel Fattah and the famed Amira Yahyaoui of Al Bawsala from Tunisia have to do with a group of committed activists from the MENA region, Cyprus and Central Europe who want to provide media skills trainings to NGOs and develop an Internet platform linking media talent to civil society have to do with this group of incredible entrepreneurs? Well, more than you’d think!

 

It seems our unique idea formulated during long days and coffee-fueled brainstorming sessions, but whose birth was really a product of the group’s years of passion and experience working for their respective communities, is something that many innovative people relate to and are inspired by. So, it was a natural fit in this turbo-charged and “change the world for the better” atmosphere.

 

The crowd response to our informative workshop session included people from Egypt, Libya and across Europe and was overwhelming positive. We all wish we could have started the trainings on the spot! However, we agreed to settle for stimulating idea creation, exchanging the needs of various communities in a more in-depth fashion and creating a space for a better understanding amongst the regions.

 

In-between the conference sessions members of the Media Buffer Zone Project team gathered in hotel lobbies, coffee shops and Labor Union halls (yes really, we met at the headquarters of the “Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, thanks labour leaders!) to discuss how best to implement the project to satisfy the needs of all.

 

The first order of business we thought of was to gauge the pulse of the people by conducting an in-depth needs analysis of what NGOs from our regions really need. So naturally we turned to our trusted partners from Palestine, Near East Consulting, who have years of experience in just this type of data mining. Next we thought to design the trainings from the actual research and turn that info into training materials civil society can use in their efforts to build their capacity in media skills.

 

Then we planned to use these tools to train “trainers” in media skills to multiply across the regions with media skills trainings in both Cyprus and Egypt to better equip our target audiences from the vast experience of both media partners CCMC and Qabila. From there we decided to develop a web-based platform which will link interested media professionals to active NGOS in the region to better serve the needs of the people these organizations serve. Whew! From an idea to being productive is an exciting and challenging proposition.

 

In order to make this all work we realized we need the vast networks of our partners Universal Patient’s Rights Organisation (Cyprus) and Zašto ne? (Bosnia and Herzegovina) to activate their networks to communicate, inform, and motivate the participants. Only in times of true inspiration due the stars align and such partnerships are formed!

So, here we go on our journey from a loose confederation of NGOS scattered throughout the Middle-East, Mediterranean and Central Europe to a tight-knit group of dedicated civil society leaders working for an innovative inter-regional knowledge exchange to strengthen the role of citizens and civil society in stimulating positive social change. Follow our adventures on twitter at @MediaBufferZone.

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Youth Ambassador project kick-starts in Romania (supported by great coffee, and Count Dracula)

What happens when you combine the talents of a soft-spoken teacher from Morocco, an experienced and incredibly knowledgeable activist from Romania, a sharp and witty young project coordinator and a fiercely passionate communications manager from Cyprus? The Youth Ambassadorship project is finally on the go – and the characteristically diverse team, got tight and productive in a tiny little village in Transylvania this month, to get the ball rolling. Find out what Kristy Eliades had to say about this exciting new project that was sparked at last year’s Power of One Conference (hosted by Peace-it-Together and supported by UNDP-ACT).

942756_251569334981135_540742211_n“I looked around the room, slightly hurt that I’d just been told that the term ‘youth’ does not actually apply to thirty-something year olds, no matter how young at heart they felt. Katerina laughed so I asked how old she was. She is 24. I nearly fell off my chair.

The mission was relatively simple – create a training manual for Youth Ambassadors to instigate cross-cultural dialogues in their region. The partners (NGO-Support Centre, Resurse Service, Youth Power, Forum De La Citoyennete and Kontea Heritage Foundation) would be nominating young people from Morocco, Romania and Cyprus to become Ambassadors whose role would be to mediate debates and group conversations in an effort to enhance understanding across cultures, challenge stereotypes, and reduce prejudice and xenophobia.

I very quickly realised that the team of partners could not be more diverse in character, appearance and working methods. ‘How brilliant,’ I thought, ‘all the best things come from teams with powerfully individual members – this is going to be great’. And it was.

The team became close very quickly, bound by the urge to get the job done effectively in order to create as much impact as possible. Together, we outlined the manual structure, created terms of reference, branded the project, researched mediation techniques, customized them and started working on the content. After what seemed like hundreds of cups of coffee and flip chart sheets, we took a step back and looked at our work. It was good. Actually it was more than good. Everyone had their own individual expertise and had worked on specific components of the manual that were most suited to them based on both experience and passion. For the short amount of time we had spent together, the four of us had done an amazing amount of work.

The trip was intense, but the long hours we all put in paid off. The project finally had a clear vision, character, image and a training manual that was very near completion. We rewarded ourselves with a half-day visit to Bran Castle (home to Vlad – the Impailer – Dracul – which of course meant Cosmin and I spent the day making ‘Mwahhhahaha’ sounds in every room) and got caught in an incredibly stubborn hailstorm. Thankfully, by then the team was close enough to actually enjoy getting soaking wet in an unknown medieval setting and we made the most of it – Khadija and Katerina did some light shopping while Cosmin and I continued making funny references to Dracula.

Only great things can come from a collaboration like that, so keep your eyes and ears open for much, much more. To catch up on what we are doing and keep yourself updated, please visit (and like) our newly launched facebook page.”

Kristy Eliades
Communications Manager
NGO-Support Centre

The Launch of the Shared Words Language Learning Game

10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3 Yes we are indeed counting down to launch the SharedWords language learning game. Well, not just yet but we are almost there! SharedWords project has been an interesting and fruitful project and a starting point that has the potential to affect, motivate, as well as to contribute to rapprochement between the two major communities of the island.

Shared Words project is not only about language learning through the use of common words between languages. It is the outcome of a peace-building philosophy that seeks common ground between different cultures, different nations, or different backgrounds; the desired objective is not only help build communication with each other, but also to hopefully touch the hearts of each other to relief themselves from the grieves and hatred of the past and from the doubt and fear of the future.As Nelson Mandela Said, “If you talk to a man in a language that he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to a man in his own language, this goes to his heart.”The approach of Shared Words project provides us the opportunity to use the common words between our first language and the language in which we want to communicate,even if we have never learned that other language.

Looking at the image below,which presents a prototype of the Shared Words game, we are happy to see that our good cooperation and effective communication with our game developer resulted in a really attractive design and great game functionalities that will allow good interaction with the players.

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Our game developer (the Interaction Lab of the Cyprus Technological University) is not the only organisation with which we have cooperated. Our cooperation with the recently launched MYCY radio, which is the only multilingual web radio of Cyprus, will broadcast the common words of Shared Words project with an interesting format:every week, the etymological story of a shared word andits traveling history and in languages will be presented in English, Greek,and Turkish. You can listen to MYCY radio and on http://mycyradio.eu.

We are also working with Youth Power to use all of the communication channels to outreach public by publishing a SharedWords booklet and distributing it to educational institutions and to other community stakeholders.Our booklets will be available on the second week of June. Keep in touch with us for more by following us athttps://www.facebook.com/Sharedworlds and https ://twitter.com/_SharedWords