October the 4th is World Animal Day in Turkey and Gizem Agyuz decided to share with us his story about how a digital platform and a campaign can have a deeply positive impact on animals’ life.
My name is Gizem Agyuz. I work as a Project Development Assistant in Doga’s office for EU Projects Coordination. I am 26 years old and I have a great love for all animals. I gained a bachelor degree in Biology from Marmara University in 2015. Naturally, my studies concentrated on plants and animals. Many lectures involved a number of animals being cut open to examine their anatomy; however, I did not attend those lessons. In order to examine their anatomy in detail, animals were first knocked unconscious and cut open; once they started waking up, were killed by having their aortic vessels cut.
I only attended the very first lecture. Myself and some of my friends in the same course could not remain indifferent. First, we talked to our friends to explain that these animals were not newly discovered species, and therefore there was no need to cut them open to examine their anatomy, as all the relevant information and images could be accessed on the internet. During one lecture, we spoke about the impact on the slaughtered animals.Unfortunately, the number of animals slaughtered for a single course was as high as 70!
This was not science, this was just slaughter!
Then we talked to the instructors in our department, and asked for this to be the last course using this appalling method of study. Unfortunately, we never achieved anything. We talked with animal protection associations and animal rights lawyers. We understood that we were able to reach more people by using digital platforms and we created a campaign via change.org. We shared our campaign with people from all over Turkey, and we managed to reach to many people. For the following year, our department decided not to cut animals oper for anatomy lessons.
After this success, I decided to become an animal activist. I worked as a volunteer in various non- governmental organisations, such as GREENPEACE, WWF, SOHAYKO, HAYTAP, etc.
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And now we leave the floor to Kuzey Sagkal, a young boy with very clear ideas on what democracy should be based on.
I am a 17 years old student from Doga Schools in Turkey. Me and my friend Deniz have been working on the topic of democracy since 2016. We have delivered a lot of workshops in Greece, Turkey and Finland.
People often talk about countries “becoming” democracies, once they start to have relatively free and open elections. But democracy includes far more than just elections, and it really makes more sense to think about the idea of ‘will of the people’, rather thanjust voting. Most of the Turkish people look at social democracy in a different way; for instance, choosing a class captain is considered to be something big in democracy, whilst in some of the more advanced countries such as Finland this is perceived as being just normal. The main reason behind our hunger for democracy is that we do not have a social democracy. We can only use democracy in its true essence only once in every five years, i.e. for the elections. We can restructure the way we think about democracy by educating our new generations on how to use democracy in their daily life. We can familiarize their opinions on democracy. Today, if we were to ask a Turkish citizen what democracy is, they would only make references to the elections, because that is all we have in the name of democracy in Turkey and underdeveloped countries. Me and my friend Deniz had conversations with people from other countries, who think their
countries are not democratic enough. We all have the same problems of lack of social democracy. In Turkey, our biggest obstacle is created by our minimum wages, which are too low, unlike EU and other advanced countries. Because of that, our people just focus on their work for subsistence and cannot really afford to care about democracy in their daily lives, even in their offices, which sets a bad example for their children who ignore anything about democracy, thus creating an endless loop.
EU projects showed me what is lacking in our democracy system and this led me into thinking about how to solve these problems.
1 Lack of social democracy
1.a Teaching democracy in our schools to the younger generation
as a subject like maths. However, the biggest obstacle is our government. Low educated people do not want to change this system and the current government is happy about this situation.
1.b Push them to use democracy in every scenario in their lives. For instance, choosing their meals at the family dinner by expressing their opinions, or choosing their student council through a democratic voting system, perhaps even including e-voting.
2 Rigging democratic elections
2.a Even though it does not look like a huge problem, it is one of the biggest problems inTurkey’s electoral system. By changing our systemto an e-voting model, we could minimise this risk and make voting easier.
In conclusion, if we were to apply these proposed actions step by step, we could advance our democracy and make use of democratic thoughts in our daily lives. Sure, it will take a long time to put these proposals into action, but our younger generations will be better for it.
Kuzey Sagkal from Doga Schools
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One of the partners of WYRED consortium, Youth for Exchange and Understanding, is consulting 180 young people taking part in University on Youth and Development on issues related to digital society.
What are their biggest concerns? What values should we have online? Do they feel that their voices are heard by decision makers and what are they demanding as young people from stakeholders for a better digital society?
Consultations are part of the revision process of WYRED Manifesto.
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Bianca Neumann, Lisa Birett and Alina Bindu from Hertha Firnberg-Schools in Vienna tell us how New Technologies can impact our lives.
Our world is currently filled with modern technology due to the noteworthy progress scientists have made in recent years. Artificial intelligence and robotics have become significantly advanced and are commonly found in the modern working fields. The adoption of service automation is able to facilitate production, transportation, medicine, education, tourism, and many other areas. The question is whether or not the world of employment will benefit from this embrace of machinery and what challenges human employees might face if robots were to actively participate in various business departments.
This also accounts for Virtual Reality which is one of the modern technologies that are nowadays used to alter our perception of the world that is surrounding us. Wikipedia defines VR as “a computer-generated scenario that stimulates a realistic experience”.
But what exactly does this mean? Headsets are usually used to either create a completely new environment or just change the outlay of the real world. Even props or physical environments can be used to generate realistic images and sounds that will completely pull the user into an alternative universe. To make the experience as authentic as possible the user is able to look and move around and even interact with virtual features or items.
Virtual reality can come in handy in many different fields and is believed to facilitate many tasks we have to face. In social sciences for example, VR is being used to study and replicate interactions of human beings in a controlled environment. Also, surgery training can nowadays be done through VR technologies. The benefits of an altered or artificial environment can be taken advantage of for educational or training purposes where individuals can develop skills without the pressure of failure and the fear of consequences which are constantly present in the real world.
But virtual reality is also used for entertainment purposes, in public or privately. This includes gaming, 3D cinema or roller coasters that are offering an extraordinary experience by using modern technologies.
Even though VR has many advantages there are various concerns especially regarding the health and safety of the users as well as the protection of their privacy. Some side effects of VR have already been noticed but most long-term effects on vision and neurological development are still unknown.
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Banu Yurtseven, with her way of teaching and thinking, is to be taken as a good reference point.
Let’s keep our ears close to the ground for her story!
My name is Banu Yurtseven. I am an English teacher at Çamlıca Theological High School for Girls. I have been teaching English as a second language since 2001. I have worked in some of the EU projects as a local expert. I am interested in social science, too.
Çamlıca Theological High School for Girls is a religious school for secondary and high school students; in Turkey, religious schools have a vocational programme. The school also offers English preparation classes, which means that 9th grade students take 20 additional 1-hour lessons in English. The goal of our school is to make our students responsible for their learning and to motivate them to reflect on how they learn best, to make them look at their own language and culture from a universal point of view by expanding their vision and knowledge of the world, to develop their critical thinking and to enable them to see problems from various points of view.
In addition, they learn about their own religion from a wide range of perspectives.
As a teacher, I want my students’ voices to be heard and their thoughts to be listened to. Since teaching on its own is not enough, we have to nurture their emotions and motivate them to become equipped with the necessary skills required today. They should gain a positive overview of different people and cultures.
To work with girls is very advantageous as they are calm, easy going, hard-working, ambitious, gregarious and considerate. They are mostly able to remain neutral before forming their opinions. They are able to find creative, ingenious solutions to problems. They are good at developing projects and use their creativity to tackle problems.
Nevertheless, teaching in a Theological High School can present the occasional difficulty. Sometimes it is difficult to engage students with political or universal subjects, because of their cultural and religious bias and preconceptions. They need to develop trust in you and talk in a rather cautious manner, as they combine typically adolescent behaviours with conservative lives. Unfortunately, their parents do not let them talk a lot. They are especially very sensitive about Islamophobia and do not want to discuss it. As girls, they want to express themselves but they are confronted with obstacles and dilemmas. This is why at every opportunity I encourage them to voice their opinions, sometimes discuss newspaper columns at break times, ask their thoughts about daily news etc., in order to encourage them to talk so that they can develop more self-confidence. With the help of EU projects, I try to encourage them and teach them to excel at public speaking, project management and ICT skills. On the other hand, I try to engage them with different activities and platforms, in order to start conversations with other young people. The EU project platforms motivate them to have their voices heard, which also strengthens their confidence.
Our lessons include debates and MUN classes (Model of United Nations), which provides them with an opportunity and the confidence to express themselves, as well as hope to be able to become brave, self-confident mothers. In my opinion, young people should learn to express themselves at an early age, for them to be able to make use of those skills during the rest of their lives.
As educators we must support them in the process, teaching is only a small part of our job.
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What does the audience actually know about critical situations described by the media?
Noemi, a student from Rome Tre University, brings to our attention the research that she carried out through the Wyred Project and its surprising results.
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Does it exist a social media awareness amongst digital natives?
Do they actually know where their data are going to be used and how? Maria Chiara, a student from Roma Tre University, urges the institutions and schools to provide a proper social media education.
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