Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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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

Animating our Actions: PeacePlayers’ Cyprus Innovative Educational Tool

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Ashley from the Peace Players team wrote about their  Knowledge product and practitioner’s exchange to Israel.

The challenge that lay in front of us was to capture our years of experience and wealth of knowledge in approaching peace buildingfrom a youth and sports angle and create an originalproduct to share this approach.  From this challenge arose, the soon to be revealed, PeacePlayers’ animations.  

The moment we heard of the opportunity presented by The Knowledge and Innovation Fund of the Peace it Together network, the brainstorming began.  We confidently and passionately believe in our organization’s powerful approach to peace building through sport.  At PeacePlayers we have a wealth of experience bridging divides, developing leaders and changing perspectives in Cyprus and across the world.   Through the series of 5 short animated films we have worked to harness the depth of our experience on and off the court and the richness of our conflict transformation curriculum, based in part on the The Anatomy of Peace model, into a unique educational product. 

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The creation phase began this past December and has seen us proceed over the last 4 months from brainstorming, to script writing, to storyboarding and finally on to animation.  As we find ourselves in this final phase we were presented with a tremendous opportunity: a Practitioner’s Exchange trip to Israel. 

Stephanie Nicolas and Ashley Johnson of PeacePlayers – Cyprus spent 6 days this past week visiting social media, peace building and youth development NGOs in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem to share the videos and receive feedback from well versed practitioners and participants in the field.  Israel proved to be the perfect location to test out our animations.  The individuals from whom we sought insight were all too familiar with dealing with conflict and gave us honest and in-depth perspectives on each of our completed videos. 

We met with 4 organizations:

 -Peace Factory, creators of the widely followed social media campaign; Israel Loves Iran

-Kids4Peace Jerusalem, an NGO offering inter-faith and inter-cultural education to Israeli and Palestinian youth

-Windows for Peace, an NGO that promotes understanding and reconciliation between communities through youth journalism and media related educational programs.

-PeacePlayers – Middle East, our sister program in Israel who works to unite and educate Palestinian and Israeli youth through the game of basketball.  Combining on the court opportunities with experiential learning activities and the implementation of “The Anatomy of Peace” curriculum to create deep open communication and understanding amongst participants. 

Throughout the week we visited each organization, shared our videos and asked a number of questions whose responses will guide us in the refinement of our product and creation of our a corresponding training modules that will accompany the videos.  

After showing the videos to various audiences, including 5 different focus groups with PeacePlayers Middle East participants, coaches and staff, we can confidently say that we have an outstanding engaging product transferrable across various cultures and perspectives.  

In returning to Cyprus we have a renewed energy and enthusiasm to approach the final stage of creation, now we have many followers not just in Cyprus, but Israel as well, anxiously anticipating the debut of our films.  So, please continue to follow the Peace it Together blog as well as PeacePlayers Cyprus’ blog and look for PeacePlayers animated educational films on Mahallae soon! 

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Cyprus history archive now available online

ImageCrossposted from Voices from Eurasia Blog, check out what Pembe Mentesh wrote!

The Cyprus Critical History Archive gives access to digitized articles relating to intercommunal relations in Cyprus

I’m pleased to announce that you can now browse a new online database – the Cyprus Critical History Archive – for Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot newspaper articles on inter-communal relations and conflict-related violence during 1955 and 1964.

The archive is a digital resource on the troubled history of Cyprus, and is a joint initiative between the Association for Historical Dialogue & Research and PRIO Cyprus Center.

The archive is a first attempt to offer an οnline trilingual collection of sources on the 1955 to 1964 period.

The purpose of the archive is to facilitate the quest for knowledge, understanding and different perspectives, and will enhance historical dialogue through access to primary sources.

“60 years on, the fundamentals of public political discourse as reflected in newspapers on both sides remain largely the same. Looking at this in a value-free fashion means that understanding the discourse of either side and bringing it into dialogue by looking at its articulation in different points in time can be a useful tool for civil society and reconciliation”

Dr. Antonis Hadjikyriacou, Project Leader

Eventually, it is hoped that the project will include articles up to 1974, and that the typology of sources will include private and public archival documentation, photographic archives, audio-visual material and oral accounts from Cyprus and abroad.

For more information, please call +357 22445740 and +90 5488345740 or send us an e-mail at: ahdr.mide@gmail.com

Τhis initiative is part of the Association for Historical Dialogue & Research’s Multiperspectivity and Intercultural Dialogue in Education project, supported by UNDP – Action for Cooperation and Trust.

Cyprus history archive now available online

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Crossposted from Voices from Eurasia Blog, check out what Pembe Mentesh wrote!

The Cyprus Critical History Archive gives access to digitized articles relating to intercommunal relations in Cyprus I’m pleased to announce that you can now browse a new online database – the Cyprus Critical History Archive – for Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot newspaper articles on inter-communal relations and conflict-related violence during 1955 and 1964. The archive is a digital resource on the troubled history of Cyprus, and is a joint initiative between the Association for Historical Dialogue & Research and PRIO Cyprus Center. The archive is a first attempt to offer an οnline trilingual collection of sources on the 1955 to 1964 period. The purpose of the archive is to facilitate the quest for knowledge, understanding and different perspectives, and will enhance historical dialogue through access to primary sources. “60 years on, the fundamentals of public political discourse as reflected in newspapers on both sides remain largely the same. Looking at this in a value-free fashion means that understanding the discourse of either side and bringing it into dialogue by looking at its articulation in different points in time can be a useful tool for civil society and reconciliation” Dr. Antonis Hadjikyriacou, Project Leader Eventually, it is hoped that the project will include articles up to 1974, and that the typology of sources will include private and public archival documentation, photographic archives, audio-visual material and oral accounts from Cyprus and abroad. For more information, please call +357 22445740 and +90 5488345740 or send us an e-mail at: ahdr.mide@gmail.com Τhis initiative is part of the Association for Historical Dialogue & Research’s Multiperspectivity and Intercultural Dialogue in Education project, supported by UNDP – Action for Cooperation and Trust.

Ever dozed off in a history class? Never again!

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AHDR is putting the pedal to the metal and kickstarting their Knowledge Product after over a month of working collaboratively to overcome challenges. That is what happens when you believe in your product from the very first creative brainstorming session – even if it IS over tea – does no one drink coffee anymore?
Check out what they have to say about the overall process!

Learning history can be fun…that’s the message we want to tell our young people.

Over the course of its 10 year history the AHDR has worked hard in producing new approaches to the learning and teaching of history… but never before has it taken the innovative form of what is currently being formulated at Home for Cooperation at this very moment.

It was a quiet afternoon in the autumn of 2012 when this new and exciting initiative was born as Daphne Lappa and Shirin Jetha sat in the AHDR library enjoying a cup of English tea (courtesy of Shirin of course) and one of Daphne’s precious chocolate bars which she kindly offered to share. This is important to note as anyone who knows Daphne well knows she can be quite possessive of her sweets! As Daphne and Shirin sat and reviewed AHDR’s ‘Nicosia is Calling’ booklet (the first education material to be produced by AHDR) they hesitantly shared their thoughts… Yes ‘Nicosia is Calling’ is definitely a positive contribution for young people in terms of learning about the old city but now with the expertise that AHDR has gained, surely more can be done… something new, something that perpetuates the shift from traditional learning and academia…

And this is when Daphne’s and Shirin’s baby was born!  Anyone in the AHDR office during the next month would hear the words “our game” being thrown into any possible conversation.  The enthusiasm was infectious! 

Being aware that we live in a society where people are still afraid to cross over to the “other” side, where prejudices and fear prevails, and children especially are exposed to biased views of the past…. the idea was to create an interactive educational game based on AHDR’s ‘Nicosia is Calling’ publications. The solid idea was to take it further… much further. 

In doing so AHDR could provide a fun and educational platform for children to learn more about the old city of Nicosia without having to rely on their teachers or schools, or even needing to leave their computer!  And how brilliant to think that a child in Morphou and a child in Paphos could be simultaneously learning the common history of Cyprus without limitations.  That these children could understand the truly multicultural past of the city through a fun and interactive platform.

Luckily the Knowledge and Innovation Fund team also felt the same way and when we pitched our idea the project was approved!

What followed was an excitement and eagerness to get the ball rolling.  Interviews were held with game developers and an incredibly creative team in Thessaloniki called Dolphins seemed like the perfect fit.  Having worked on the Balkan Tales and the Twice A Stranger projects and through their creative display of beautiful aesthetics, Daphne and Shirin were won over and Dolphins were selected as the creative partner.

Daphne’s and Shirin’s love of the project was put to the test and the team had to strive to convince person after person that this really is a great idea and should be implemented.  Luckily they found support in the positive energy of Sylvie Manti, Project development Consultant of the Peace-it-Together Network whose presence and sheer motivation was a much needed gift.

Needless to say, perseverance, determination and hard work paid off and the development of the game kicked off… We had delayed one and half months but as they say – all good things are worth waiting for!

Stay tuned to get sneak preview of the game as it develops and find out more about our pilot testing sessions which could give you the opportunity to be one of the first to try out our new and exciting game and help shape the final product!

Shirin Jetha
Projects Coordinator at AHDR

Naming the Peace-it-Together Online Hub: Open Call for votes

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As you probably already know, a new digital online platform mapping the peace-building efforts in Cyprus since the 1970s is currently being developed by the Peace-it-Together network and UNDP-ACT and is being implemented by the NGO Support Centre and the Management Centre. The platform will also include  peace and reconciliation products as well as practical resources and networking tools  for local and international practitioners, civil servants and people throughout the region that want to take action for positive change. Now, the Peace-it-Together network needs your help to give it a name through an online vote open to the public today.

The Peace-it-Together team vision has always been incredibly large and driven by innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. During the past two weeks the team has exchanged ideas as to the naming and effective branding of the online hub that has been developing over the past few months. A finalized version will be launched online at the beginning of this summer.

Please click here to vote on one of the five short-listed suggestions for the name you feel best describes the efforts undertaken by the Peace-it-Together network. The name which gains the most votes by the 1st of March will also be translated into a domain name and brand the culmination of all Peace-it-Together efforts.

The five suggested names are: CohesionLab, Mahallae, InnovEX, Social Cohesion Lab, ExchangeLab. The polling process will be launched from the 19th of February till the 1st of March. More information about the project as well as links to the poll can be found on the Peace-it-Together network facebook page, twitter and blog.

For the Press: >> Peace-it-Together is a network of Civil Society Organisations working together to create a sustainable platform to support the efforts of Cypriot civil society in peace building and reconciliation. The network is implemented by the NGO-Support Centre and the Management Centre and supported by UNDP-ACT. The network is comprised of committed civil society partners that have worked on peace building over the past decade and who have become the principle drivers for moving the reconciliation agenda forward in Cyprus.