Enter the Net in University on Youth and Development
At the end of September, the University on Youth and Development celebrated its 16th edition; at CEULAJ in Mollina, Spain; under the joint theme “Youth.org: Actors for Change!” YEU organized the “Enter the Net: Digital Competences of Organizations” training course that I had the pleasure of participating in.
The project was focused on bringing youth workers into contact with new and innovative Information and Communication Technology (ICT) methods and tools with which to enable them to access, store, transmit, and manipulate information in an effective manner in- and outside of their organizations. Participants were also brought into contact with Open Education Resources (OER); freely available resources which can aid in teaching, learning and research; which allowed for a greater pool of possibilities when it comes to working with youths, by granting greater equality for young users. By coming into contact with new ICT and OER options, youth workers will now be able to show more flexibility and be better able to adjust to the changing realities created by an ever constantly growing group of technologically-able young people. It was also within the context of using these ICT and OER tools that participants were able to discuss and tackle the issues surrounding internet governance from a human rights perspective. By seeing the equal opportunity granted by these ICT and OER tools, internet governance became a somewhat more tangible concept with clearer problems and solutions.
It was in the context of this project; during the 16th UYD; that YEU aimed to build the digital competences of youth organizations; by developing the tools and methods of youth workers within the daily work of their organizations, but also in raising their awareness for the practical ramifications of internet governance in general.
The week started off at CEULAJ with activities with which to get to know each other; where the participants and trainers were pleasantly introduced to each other through the use of some “ice-breaking” games and talks. (I would argue that these worked a bit too well maybe, seen as it was clear from the start that we, as a group; trainers and participants; were getting along really well!) This feeling of community that was quickly built created a safe-space within which we could discuss and deal with serious topics; such as internet governance; but where we could also just enjoy each other’s presence and personality. Discussions were serious, yet enjoyable; experiences were shared and any problems that came up were quickly reconciled. The sessions were also very often characterized with certain songs, and their associated dances; which we regularly performed for ourselves and the others present at UYD. Throughout the week we learnt about new tools and methods with which we could enhance our organization’s technological side, and about certain problems (and the possible solutions) associated with internet governance and privacy. Through the use of personalized anecdotes and global statistics many of these things were brought into a clearer context for us as participants.
However, the learning didn’t end when the project’s sessions were over. During the joint-sessions, meals, and breaks, and sometimes even deep into the night, we were able to meet up with other participants, from a variety of groups that were also present at the UYD. Each one of us came into contact with different people, from (sometimes) very different cultures; from whom we could learn from and at the same time teach about new things. Discussions of all sorts were often started during dinner time and were only resolved while sitting at Paco’s; a pleasant little pub in Mollina.
I might be describing this all in a pretty dry manner (sadly that’s my writing style), but I can assure you that even though it’s been more than a month since the project was completed, I am still filled with an euphoric happiness thinking about the week I was able to spend learning serious, and also fun, things from a group of people that have become family to me.