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Second Central Asia Youth and Media camp: the first five days
Submitted by Alexander Cavell on 23 July 2012
The fifth day of the Second Central Asia Youth in the 21st Century Media and Debate camp is now underway. The camp's 36 participants- drawn from over 300 applicants- have now been through more than 32 hours of intensive public speaking, critical thinking, photography and journalism training.
With eight days of teaching, debate rounds, photography and journalism assignments remaining, the participants are already beginning to put their skills to work, creating a range of reports, documentary photography. All of the photographs that appear in this report are the work of camp participants.
A number of participants are also compiling blogs giving their perspective on the Youth in the 21st Century experience. These will join a new IDEA staff blog by debate trainer Alexander Cavell on idebate.org.
So far the camp's debate trainers have introduced participants to the essential elements of structured argumentation. Sessions that ran from day one to day two of the camp covered the core skills needed to build up contentious and persuasive statements. The participants also explored refutation – the art of responding to arguments, highlighting their flaws and challenging the factual statements that they are based on. Together, these concepts enable students to engage in reactive exchanges of ideas and observations about the world.
Ethics and journalism
The first two days of the camp were also aimed at giving the participants a grounding in critical analysis of the media. Veteran BBC journalist Marke Bekerman and media entrepreneur Kaarmanbek Kuluev examined the implications of private ownership and government censorship for journalists practising in developed and developing states. The participants' writing skills were assessed via a “media memoir” assignment – an article exploring the role that media has played in individual participants' lives, and its effect on their world view, educational and political experiences. Discussion groups made up of participants and trainers looked at journalistic ethics and the different ethical considerations involved in working in different forms of media, equipping participants with a robust ethical perspective ahead of the camp's fieldwork assignments.
Culture night, an old Youth in the 21th Century tradition, took place on Friday 20 July. Students assembled an array of costumes, national delicacies and several bowls full of flower petals for an evening made up of Afghan and Kyrgyz dancing, a recreation of a Tajik marriage ceremony, a presentation on Mongolian calligraphy and a sneak peek preview of Bishkek , I love you, a feature film produced and shot in the Kyrgyz Republic.
The intensity of the camp's training sessions increased on Saturday. Participants were introduced to the fundamentals of news writing by Marek and media entrepreneur Kaarmanbek. Students also began to prepare for a trip outside the camp, to the nearby town of Bosteri's bazaar. Rounding off the day, groups of participants, assisted by training staff, assessed each other's media memoirs and collectively revised the contents of the previous days' sessions.
Meanwhile, the debate-track's lead trainer Eric DiMichele ran workshops on adaptive and responsive debating, demonstrating techniques that participants could use to adapt prepared debate arguments to the changing mixture of principles and examples that define competitive speaking. Participants were also taught how to combine structured speaking and key rhetorical techniques to increases the persuasiveness of the their debate speeches. Participants read from a selection of 20th century oratory, including speeches given by Neil Kinnock and Harry Truman, to gain an understanding of how structure, argumentation and non verbal communication can interact with each other to make public speaking performances more engaging and memorable.
Keep checking idebate.org for profiles and interviews with the camp's trainers and participants, coverage of the Bosteri bazaar and an upcoming excursion to the foothills of the Tian Shan mountains, a detailed report on Culture Night and lots more photographs.