Raising the voice of young people in Turkey

The 17-year-old girl Irem Abdurrazzakoglu opens our eyes to the urgent need for young people in Turkey to raise their voices and defend their ideas and opinions. The WYRED Project helps them to express their thoughts freely.

My  name  is İrem  Abdurrazzakoğlu. I am a student from Çamlıca Theological High School for  Girls  in Turkey.  I  am 17  years  old  and  I believe  that,  as a  young  person, I need  to express my thoughts.

The WYRED project is an umbrella  platform  for me,  on  which we  can work on creative projects,  express our ideas and take on responsibilities. We will be thrown into the ‘adult world’ sooner or later, so before this  happens  we should  improve  ourselves. I attended  the WYRED social dialogues and joined the community as a teenager to produce new ideas with other students. Today, young people are not given much space to  have a  say.  However, we  want  to change that.  With  projects  such  as  WYRED, which enables  us  to make  ourvoices  heard, we  are taking trainings for a society in which everyone freely shares ideas, respects ideas and is equal.

After the general elections in Turkey, I thought I  should revise  my  topic and  decide  to write about democracy. As  we  all know,  we  live in a  world  where democracy prevails. Every day, many regulations are made in order to make people’s life easier. Although the layout we live in looks nice  from  the outside,  does  it actually give us the  opportunity to express  our   thoughts freely? With the recent elections in our country, young people started to get more attention from the state. We started to follow the demonstrations organised  by the  party  leaders. With  these regulations, we are  told,  young people  will have  more rights  and  advantages. When will we  start  to express  ourselves  better as young people? It is obvious  that  each person  will  have their own  ideas. We all  want to tell  people about these ideas in the best possible way. As  a matter of fact, we are fighting a lot about our ideas. We all strive to defeat each other in the direction of our political ideals and ideologies. Sometimes we break each other’s hearts to justify our ideas. Sometimes adults try to impose their ideas on us and do not allow us to have our own thoughts. It is not well received for a right-wing father to have a left-wing  child. In such situations, we  simply keep our ideas to ourselves and remain silent. Sometimes we are not allowed to talk, they say we are too young to defend our ideas. We often hear that we do not know anything and  that’s why  we  cannot decide.

In  short, we  cannot have any idea, we cannot defend ourselves ideologically and we do not respect  the opinions of others.  But we can change it, we can learn to argue in a respectful way and prove that we have meaningful ideas. In addition to the above, young people cannot explain their own thoughts as much in school. One of  the main reasons for this is that students are not taken seriously by administrators. Students are hesitant to submit their ideas and suggestions in their schools, or they   cannot get  a   feedback. They face a sanction; they are subject to disciplinary threats or cannot receive a response. If  our own  ideas are not respected, our self-esteem as young people is damaged, we are forced to stay in silence and we are exposed to injustice. Some  changes  must be  made  so that  young people  in schools  do not face  such  situations. For   example,  a   school   council  should   be established  and  every  student should  be  able to express  complaints  and suggestions.  In  the elections held in school, every student must be eligible without any age and class restrictions. Students  should not  be  dismissed when  they comment  on a  situation. The administrators should  always  be open to students and  give importance  to their  ideas. Do not  forget  that we are  young  people, representatives  of  the future and our ideas are important.

 

Listen to the young people’s voice, please. We are trying to raise it.

 

Irem Abdurrazzakoglu

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WYRED Graffiti on a school wall in Israel

The Students of the “Hof Hasharon” regional school in Israel, part to the WYRED Project, expressed their frustration about the current education system, the high pressure and stress they feel.

“We feel that the the system does not really see us as individuals, and we are wasting time memorizing material that will not help us in the future…”, “We don’t want just to memorize and then to “throw up” the material”, thay said.

They decided to paint a Wyred Graffiti (painted on the school wall) to raise attention and awareness of the stressful situation that high school students experience.

Well done guys!

 

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WYRED for “Brave New You”

From 22nd of June to 2nd of July 2018, 60 young people from 11 countries met in Portugal thanks to the 37th YEU Convention. The occasion was “Brave New You – BNY” process, which was held in 2 different venues in Portugal. The process itself focused on tackling narratives and creating counter ones.

Young participants had the chance to go through WYRED project and the platform which they will use to realize their work online. The topics set during the process are various.

Some tackle Roma, LGBTQI+ communities and as set by the young people through the “Brave New You process” the results will be linked to Narratives online and what recommendations are there to make a more inclusive and diverse digital society.

Interesting enough, this process linked the two Cycles of WYRED, as the platform and process was presented by young people which applied their research during the first Cycle.

Ioanna and Giulia, previous participants, shared their interest to present the process, as they felt that these projects can really engage young people and actually have a higher impact, sharing ideas and feelings of young people”. Building up on their engagement and personal development, both of them will be engaged as facilitators of the online communities liked to “Brave New You.”

As participants departed from Portugal, the process will now move online, inside the WYRED platform. A set of Communities has already been created, bringing these young people from different European countries together. At this point, we are looking forward for their process to start and to use their research results to build a stronger youth-oriented dialogue with stakeholders.

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WYRED at the European Youth Event 2018

During January 2018, YEU together with partners took the decision to take part in European Youth Event (EYE) and use the opportunities that it offers. As Project coordinator, facilitator of WYRED projects and a young person myself, I need to say that the process itself was exciting and very emotional. It required coordination, collaboration and networking with partners, organizers of EYE, Members of the European Parliament etc. Thinking of all these processes, it is important to share this WYRED story and specifically the EYE_WYRED story.

Going backwards, in this period of 5 months, a lot have happened within WYRED and I was fortunate enough to be part of it. But the most important event for me was our participation in EYE. Why is it so important I hear you say? Attending an event that more than 8000 young people are present causes excitement, fills you up with energy and expectations. Expectations that WYRED did meet.

Being able to reflect and self-reflect, it is the moment that makes you feel that we are at the point that WYRED empowers and creates a bridge between young people, children and stakeholders. Taking a look back through the process of reaching stakeholders, speakers, finding participants to join YEU group, building the agenda of our activities and so on and so forth, shows me that all of it totally worth it.

Welcoming 7 young people at a place that European decision making takes place, shows that what WYRED does, can and will continue to have impact. Thanks to the support of YEU, USAL, MOVES and DOGA, these participants got to experience the opportunities we are here to offer. The opportunities that WYRED creates. The chance to engage and discuss with people who decide, with people who can affect our future. However, this time, a group of 11 people made the first step to push for change. A step that WYRED fostered. A step that I had a small part to contribute in.

I truly hope that these 7 young people and their teachers feel as excited as I felt that weekend. A weekend that marked me and will make me #keepgettingWYRED.

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Learning, discussing and innovating Turkish schools with the WYRED Project

Another success story from our Turkish partner Doga School, brought to us by the words of one of our young WYRED ambassadors:

I am Deniz Özkan, a high school student from Turkey. Since I was a child, I always dreamed to be someone able to produce new ideas. I love experimenting with different things, getting to know new people and learning in general. I love learning about different topics, hobbies etc.

I attended WYRED social dialogues and workshop because I thought it was a great idea. WYRED is a great platform to speak out, to share our projects and ideas, and to discuss them with like-minded people. I attended a WYRED session in 11 November 2017 and met great people. We discussed different kind of problems in today’s society. This was a great experience. I then thought about doing a project that could be beneficial to our world. I have read various scientific researches about Chlorella, a green algae. Eventually I decided to work on a zero-waste, 100% ecofriendly project that could help fight global warming and produce organic fertilisers at the same time. With the help of my biology teacher, Emine Eryılmaz, we carried out some research and experimented with Chlorella vulgaris. The idea was to use the Chlorella as a carbondioxide absorbant and then reuse it as a fertiliser. Our hypothesis was apparently correct and the model worked fine.

We attended 2 different national science contests, and we hope to attend more. I also hope to attend international contests and to introduce my project to the wider world. I am always open to starting new projects and constantly think of good ideas that could be useful and beneficial. Attending the project sessions and conferences was a major contribution to strengthening my self-confidence and to develop my creativity.

Projects such as WYRED are a great platform to meet new people and to exchange opinions and points of view. Another exciting aspect is that this is an international project. A similar example is the Demokleos project, which was great because we had the opportunity to visit the democracy capital of the world, Greece. We discussed democracy with other teens from different parts of the world. We voiced our opinions about democratic understanding in today’s world, the problems of it, how it can be improved etc. We also learned about cultures, traditions of other countries and made good friends. We also invited them come over to our country to continue the workshops and share some of our traditions with them.

These were great experiences. I hope to experience more, learn about other cultures, invent, produce things that can help other people. I am really grateful that I have great teachers, mentors and a great family that helped me to be who I am today. I had great opportunities and it really helped me become the person I am today.

My school (teachers, friends) always back me up and help me to turn my ideas into reality. My mentors, friends (some of them I met through these projects) are always there when I need some advice or feedback. Currently, I am working on few different projects, some which are still just ideas, I believe I can really be a good, innovative citizen for our world, thanks to all the people who helped me and these great experiences I had.

Deniz Özkan

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Using the eye of the camera to address social issues

Students at DV8 media college in Brighton recently took part in a Social Dialogue Session as part of the WYRED project. Each student was creating a photo essay and a film project on issues that were important to them. Subjects ranged from online gambling addiction to the effect of technology on the behaviour of young children to the impact of stereotyping on youth groups.

One student had chosen to take portraits of the people in the streets of Brighton to explore the issue of diversity. If you’ve ever walked up to a stranger on the street and asked to take their picture then you’ll know how hard that can be. Another girl made a photo essay about Brighton at 4am showcasing the characters, colours and curiosities of the city streets late at night. “I was struck by how many people were out and about.”

The short film on the effects of gambling illustrated how certain betting companies will offer freebies and reminders and incentives for people to return to their websites. This can be very difficult for someone who is actively trying to give up an addictive and detrimental relationship with gambling. The films also showed how easy it can be to get into serious debt and the other severe consequences. “I was surprised how many companies offered incentives for people to spend a target amount each month.”  Although only available to people over 18, the easy access from your smartphone as soon as you turn 18 is an issue that is important for some young people.

DV8 students will be uploading their projects onto the WYRED platform soon. They would love to get feedback on their projects and participate in online dialogues with other young people across Europe.

Join their community to find out more!

Students at DV8 Media College in Brighton learn to create multi-media such as film, photography, fashion and music production.

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Gender and Non-Binary Gender Identities

Gender and non-binary gender identities group have been set up in order to address the issues of individuals with different identities and expressions. The YEU volunteers, aged between 20 and 30 years old and based in Belgium, researched the ways different societies react towards the topic of gender, and what is the role played by Social Media in this.

Research Question: What is the impact of Social Media on building awareness and understanding around gender and gender identities?

The participants chose this topic because of their past experience working on different international events and projects on it as organizers, facilitators, trainers etc. By analyzing Social Media and other online sources, the group recognized that in most debates about gender identities, the non-binary gender identities and expressions are less addressed and debated. Consequently, it is also obvious that many young people around Europe here lack of the proper understanding and awareness on this topic.

The main outcomes* of the group’s work and researches were:
– The sources promoting understanding and awareness on gender issues are just a few;
– There are lots of aggressive and “hate” speeches online;
– There is the need to promote a gender-sensitive educational approach online and offline from early years;
– There is a necessity to talk about this kind of issues, especially in relation to online behavior, respect and tolerance;
-It is very important to link Formal Education and Non-Formal Education to actually promote, support and raise awareness on these issues. That can also support the development of digital material and help people tackle related issues.

*Note: These are the current conclusions, with the finalization of the process (beginning of June 2018), there could be more results.

 

The nonbinary flag.

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Tales from the first WYRED’s youth-led Showcase Workshop in Rome!

The first WYRED youth-led meeting, suitably named “Young researchers in the digital society”, took place last Friday at the Faculty of Political Science and International Relations of the University Roma Tre in Rome, Italy.

Our partner Oxfam Italia , organized and supervisor of the whole initiative, briefly introduced the project and the work carried out by the young participants over the last academic year and then merged into the roundtables that were scheduled for the day. The meeting did not provide for an external moderator, in order not to steal the show from the young researchers and let them expose the methodologies used, make their points, host and foster the debate on their own. The audiences consisted of students, lecturers, representatives from the main local authorities, all praising the innovativeness of the event, the methodologies used and the topics chosen by the young ones. Sometimes, the Oxfam staff had to cut the debate short to make it possible for everyone to have their say…they were so caught up in conversation that they totally forgot about the time limits!

The topics discussed between the young researchers and their audiences are listed below. We truly wish to repeat this wonderful experience next year, so that even more young people will be able to enjoy the opportunities provided by the WYRED Project. Please keep supporting us!

 

The Showcase Workshop’s roundtables:

  • Young people, media and self-depiction social media foster the narcissistic need of receive approval from peers: as a consequence, relationships developed online often lead to social isolation, emotional distress, performance anxiety, and then to bullying and cyberbullying. However, young people often are not informed about data privacy and Internet security at all. What to do?
  • Young people, labour-market and political participation The research projects all point out that young people today do not feel any sense of belonging to communities and/or generations. They do not feel anything that is not apathy and withdrawal when confronted with civic engagement and rational voting. They do not even recognize themselves as NEETs and prove to be unable to find individual solutions to achieve active citizenship and personal fulfilment. What to do?
  • Young people, globalization and social inclusion– The stereotypes on Italy and Italians by foreign people show how, even in our country, people changed their perception of immigration over the last few years. Only the negative side of globalisation are addressed, that is precisely why foreign students are often discriminated in schools. What to do?

 

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A lesson learnt: never entrust anyone with your personal data!

The Northern Ireland WYRED group, comprising 48 children who range from 10 to 11 years old, have now moved into the research phase of the project exploring Cyberbullying, Fake News and Hacking and coming up with their research questions.

One story about hacking came from a 10 year old girl.

“I was going to my grandmother’s for a week’s holiday with my family and she has not got internet connection, so I gave my friend my password to my snapchat so that she would keep up my streaks.”

What are streaks?

“You snap chat a person every day and they have to snap you back in the same 24 hour period and you build up streaks.

My friend sent my password to her friend who passed it onto another friend who I do not know. They hacked into my account and got all my information and I had to make a new account.”

Why did you give your password away?

“Because I would have no wifi or 4G when I was away. If you don’t snap in the same 24 hours you lose the streak and I would have lost 200 days of streaks so I had to give away my password.

I learnt never to give my password away.”

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Homeschooling or Traditional school? The WYRED kids have their say!

Among the valuable aspects of WYRED, a special mention should be made to the wide variety of backgrounds of the young people that have been involved in the project so far. Although it might be hard to properly engage all of them properly in all the activities proposed, but we do believe that the extra effort will pay off as children and young people from all walks of life do deserve to have their voices heard.

The Boundaries Observatory, a recently founded Community Interest Company that focuses on developing new approaches to social research and partner of the WYRED project from its start, shared with the consortium a story about a group of 9 young people (5 boys and 4 girls) between 10 and 12 years old, all being educated outside the normal school environment. They are a very varied group with different backgrounds and different reasons for being home-educated. Most of them have experience of conventional schooling, and for different reasons they and their families have decided to opt for home education. The group forms part of an informal network that comes together for different activities in different combinations.

Although a group of this nature might be expected to make extensive use of digital technologies to access learning opportunities, few of them are whole- hearted users of digital technologies, and in some cases, they are actively resistant to them, eschewing social media and the use of the Internet except for quite specific activities related to learning. They expressed a degree of skepticism regarding the value of these technologies and some questioned their unconditional use by other young people.
This extended to their initial responses to the digital dimension in WYRED.

Questions were raised about the data in the platform, who would control it, why was it necessary to give names, surnames and ages and why indeed was it necessary at all? What was valued was the opportunity for international interaction in this case, but not all have yet confirmed that they wish to enter the platform.

As mentioned, most of the participants have experience of the way schools work, having spent in some cases a few terms, in others longer, before taking the decision to leave and start, or return to, home education. The reasons for doing so are quite varied. In some cases, it was the sense that a lot of time is wasted in schools on things that are not relevant to learning. The focus on discipline was particularly commented on as problematic as it got in the way of actually learning things, but important was the sense that much of what is taught is not useful in their lives. Others had had negative experiences relating to the lack of humanity in the school context, where at many points in the day there is little supervision of the children and how they behave towards one another. The shared conclusion was that for them, conventional schools are not an appropriate environment.

However, some had heard of progressive schools, such as Steiner schools, and identified some positive elements in them. The group did feel that a good aspect of schools like that in general is the chance to come together with friends and try new things. The fact that the others are simply there in the school context, as opposed to having to organize to meet them was mentioned.

As a group they felt that schools could be improved, and it might be possible to design a school that would meet their needs more appropriately and in a more humane (friendly) way. They therefore decided that one of the projects the group would work on is the idea of “a better school”. The aim is to use the WYRED platform to ask other children and young people across Europe about their school experiences, explore different kinds of school and how they work, and using all this information, create their own design.

More news soon! And look for them on the platform.

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