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Making Media, Building Peace. A Media Literacy and Digital Storytelling Peace Workshop

22.11.2012

8 November 2012, at Thammasat University

The Communication and Information unit of UNESCO Bangkok participated to the Fifth UNESCO Youth Peace Ambassador Training Workshop: Holistic View of Peace, Health, Development and the Environment. More than 100 UNESCO Youth Peace Ambassadors from all Asia gathered in Thailand to draft their action plans to advocate for a culture of peace in their countries. Prof. Darryl Macer, UNESCO Regional Advisor for Social and Human Sciences in Asia and the Pacific addressed the following questions: “How can we educate citizens in different countries and institutions to promote a culture of peace and peace building? How can we foster a culture of peace through education, promote respect for all human rights, ensure gender equality, foster democratic participation and support participatory communication and the free flow of information?”

In response to these questions, the CI unit prepared Making Media, Building Peace. A Media Literacy and Digital Storytelling Peace Workshop. The aim of this workshop was to think about our new media languages and the ways in which they can be used to speak about real life issues. We focused not only on how to “speak” through media, but also on how to “read” media critically. Reading media critically is important to understand what kinds of messages build the cultures we live in and shape our identities. Combining media literacy concepts with digital storytelling techniques is an empowering communications strategy that will allow learners to increase their awareness and understanding of particular issues such as media and environment, health, problematic gender representations and body images, violence, media, power and identity configurations.

The training was structured in such a way to empower participants with the skills to respond to (online and offline) dominant, discriminatory and marginalizing media messages, by producing alternative or oppositional meanings through their digital media peace stories. The outcome of the workshop was two folded: on one hand, foster an understanding of the importance of being attentive and critical readers/ consumers of media messages, on the other, become responsible cultural producers. Understanding the politics of how meaning is produced and the influential role of the media industry in constructing the cultures we live in, is mutually related to a project of civic education where learners may think about their roles as citizens and through digital media, build dialogue and denounce power imbalances, inequalities, social struggles and injustices.

UNESCO Youth Peace Ambassadors coming from all over Asia were very active during the workshop. Despite for many participants this was the first time they engaged with Media Literacy and Digital Storytelling concepts and exercises, every workshop member actively participated and presented their critical feedback on the media products that were exposed to them. Many of the Youth Ambassadors understood the potential of Media Literacy to promote community engagement, listen to and learn from members of a community, increase awareness and understanding of particular issues, and advocate, lobby and denounce those issues through new media literacies.

 

Workshop Facilitated by Sara Gabai, MIL Trainer