Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Archive for the ‘china’ Category

Digital Media, Children and Young People

This summer I really think that we’ve started to integrate digital media into our work across the Youth Service and spread the message of what we do wider. For example, one of the by unintended by products of the young people blogging from India has been the impact on not only on them but also on their communities. Below are a few examples of how blogging has been going inter generational!

Blogging in India

Blogging in India

“Nanny pat been blogging every day and is as proud of you as we are.”

“Nan`s here tonight she`s very proud of  you and has really enjoyed seeing your pictures,teaching her how to blog!!!”

“Aren’t you impressed I am blogging? Look forward to seeing you. Love Nan and Grandadxxx”

“Will get dad to blog tomorrow”

Young people involved in the Inspire India programme all come from targeted backgrounds and it has been amazing to see the communal response to their experiences. Families, carers, workers and friends have been following their adventures, their ups and downs and giving them a lot of encouragement. When we have had to contact individuals we have frequently had comments about groups of relatives and friends sitting around the computer to post comments or to see what has been happening.

As well as this the young people in india have been learning how to use the video and digital cameras to capture ‘the moment’ and then spending time describing their experiences. Many of them have had negative experiences of writing at school however appear much happier to write on the computer and using text language, or textese simplifies communication for them. (Although I have to admit that sometimes I find it difficult to interpret! 🙂

Young people involved in hosting the chinese on the china exchange programme have been writing up their experience and reflections on the china blog and I’m hoping to post some video feedback from some of their discussions shortly.

As well as this young carers involved in the Summer Camps during the last two weeks have been keeping video diaries. (Again, watch this space for some examples of what they have been up to). We hope that this will develop into an ongoing piece of work with the young carers group that will give them an opportunity to share their experiences as young carers with others.

So……..we are starting to bring together the hardware, experience, knowledge and creativity to help us start taking toddler steps in using digital and social media in youth work. Whilst this is taking a long time I feel that with ongoing hard work and intiaitive we will be able to further develop this work and embed it more fully into our practice.

Chinese Exchange Group Returns!

Courtesy of Tama Leaver

Courtesy of Tama Leaver

Wow! At last our Chinese partners, the Shandong Youth Federation, have confirmed that they will be coming to the UK on the return leg of the Youth Exchange we’ve organised! Some of you may recall that last year was the first opportunity we had to take a group of young people to China. They blogged about their experiences as well as creating a short film that they showed at the beginning of this year to a wide audience. We have always been aiming to host an incoming group and this will be the first time that our partners are sending young people instead of a group of youth work staff. As ever communications have been difficult (something we are hoping to clarify when the group is here) and it has taken some time to get confirmation of their visit.

Two of the young people from last autumns group are organising the programme for the Chinese group, including homestays, and we are hoping to blog on the West Sussex Youth Service Chinese Exchange Blog whilst they are here. So if you’re keen to keep an eye on our exploits then please log in from 3rd August onwards.

Blogging and Wiltshire Youth Service

A colleague and myself found ourselves in rural Wiltshire the week before last thanks to David Whelwell. I’ve conversed with David online both here and also through other online forums. He followed our China Exchange Blog and invited us to talk to colleagues from Wiltshire Youth Service about our blogging experiences. It was a really helpful and useful experience as we had the opportunity to truly reflect on our experience of blogging with young people. I’ve been trying to make sure that I keep using video etc to support this blog so the short animoto video below shows a little of what we did. (I’m still learning what photos to take and haven’t yet worked out how to add video to this as I’ve seen others do).

Anyway, back to the day itself… what was key was the sharing of our experiences with others and hearing what youth workers were currently trying out in Wiltshire. There were some interesting discussions and sharing of information. What struck me during these discussions was the need to have an interest and be prepared to have a go with digital media even if you’re not too sure where it’s going to take you! One definate  ‘take away’ for me was their investment in using online resources for training youth workers, something I think is essential for developing digital skills and confidence in our staff and that I will be sharing with our training staff.

China Follow Up Residential

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks with more to follow! The weekend before last I was part of the staff team who met up again with the young people who went on the China Exchange visit last October. We were running a follow up weekend with several experiences. We were reviewing their experiences, supporting them to make a storyboard in order to develop a DVD highlighting their journey, and planning for the return visit by the Chinese hopefully in July this year.

It was a really interesting weekend. First up we did an exercise where I read out statements and the young people had to place themselves on a line with totally agree at one end and totally disagree at the other end. The statements related to some of the issues and areas they discovered in China, for instance whether Europe should adopt a one child policy, that young people in the UK should adopt a Chinese approach to the elderly, that it was better to be poor in the UK than in China and so forth. The object was to be provocative and to challenge their learning and thoughts and this was certainly achieved….leading to thought provoking discussions about democracy and freedom of choice.

Saturday was spent doing storyboarding. We encouraged the group to draw pictures of the things that really stood out for them during the 10 days and to reflect on why this was so and what they had felt at the time. As you can see on the video, there was lots of discussion and they made a wonderful scroll of their visit. They used this as the basis of reviewing video clips and starting to develop ‘their’ story.

They’ve also been working on a presentation and celebration event to include parents. Although there was a lot of hard work put in on the video over the weekend there is still a lot to do. The group have developed their return visit plan for the Chinese and also discussed how much longer they remain engaged in this work. Many of them have exams coming up so will be limited but they are still all very enthusiastic and keen to host the return group. I’m also looking at how they might support us in some of the other international work we’re doing as I’m keen for them to be able to support give a young persons perspective on our future projects. So, although this part of the project is winding up there are various other avenues for them to keep involved with our work and hopefully share their experiences with others.

Initial Reflections on Blog by young people in China

Well, I’ve more or less had the final blogs through from China and thought I’d just share my initial thoughts about how we’ve used this tool so far for this experience. We will be ongoing with the blog (hopefully) in the future but it’s been a real learning experience for all involved and I have no doubt we will be writing this up, at least briefly, to help inform our future practice.

My colleague, Maralyn, has written a thoughtful post here on our West Sussex Youth Exchange – China 2008 blog. I think that one of our key learnings for the future was to throughly investigate whether there are any potential blocks on the hosting site you use for the blog. However, in saying this I think that it has been useful having the blogs come through as emails as I have done a few limited edits. This has been important as we were publicising the blog to county council members etc. and needed to ensure that the material was appropriate. I think that it is important to think about what audience the blog is going out to and how this might be managed. This would be especially important in any form of Crisis Management as the immediacy of the blog and what may be being posted may not be ‘on message’. I had a few interesting internal debates about the integrity of editing the young people’s blogs however this was minimal and hopefully did not detract from the gist of what the young people were saying. There is a similar discussion to this here on Youth Work Online . Another time around I would discuss this more in advance with the group.

West Sussex Youth Exchange Group - China 2008

West Sussex Youth Exchange Group - China 2008

The next point is that blogging takes time!!! I think those that blog know this however I think that we do need to think about how we as youth workers build this into our programmes when using blogging as a reflective tool. I am looking forward to discussing this with the group and seeing whether there would have been any difference if there had been group blogs, or individuals having a day each to blog? I’m also interested in how the videoing turns out and how this balances with the blogs as they have been recording a lot of their thoughts on video too which for some might be an easier medium.

Well, these are just quick thoughts and I will no doubt be posting more. Thank you to those that have been following the China blog, the young people have enjoyed your comments and also been inspired by the number of views they’ve been getting. If you have any suggestions for the future or any other thoughts on the blog please do leave a comment below as we’d love to get any feedback.

Blogging from China…

…is proving interesting! It appears that our WordPress site is blocked so our foray into blogging with young people has taken a slightly different turn with the group writing their blogs and then emailing them to me to post along with their photos. It seems to be working, so if you’re interested check it out here – West Sussex Youth Service – China Exchange 2008.

West Sussex Youth Service at the Great Wall of China

West Sussex Youth Service at the Great Wall of China

China Update 4 – They’re Off!!

bejingcityprop (51)Well, the day I thought would never arrive finally has…….as I speak there are 12 young people and 3 youth work staff from West Sussex on a coach starting their adventure to China!

Wow! I’m amazed that we’ve managed to get everything in place. On Tuesday we had our last staff meeting. We went over the final details, checking visas, emergency contacts (which is me now that I can’t go) sorting out the final IT needs (we’re hoping that a dongle is going to work out there, it’s difficult with limited info coming out of China but if not we’re hoping that there should be internet facilities available in some of the areas they are visiting.) We also went through a few scenarios of what ifs so that the staff could pre – prepare. With all ready I think yesterday was a frantic catch up for them of all that was outstanding (judging by the email in my inbox) and that’s it – they’re off.

Having been inspired to keep blogs and use IT software (thanks Mediasnackers) we have spent time with the group using animoto, and other video to encourage them to explore their own identity and share some of their lives and culture – here are 2 that I thought you might enjoy:-

The group are are aiming to keep a record of the exchange on line. If you would like to keep up to date with their adventures we are adventuring into blogging as a group and they will hopefully be sending updates to their blog  – West Sussex Youth Exchange – China 2008 do visit and have a look! 

China Update 3

I thought it was time to bring us up to speed with all things Chinese! Unfortunately I’ve had to withdraw from the exchange (at least physically) as I’ve not been too well and felt that I wouldn’t be able to lead and support the group on this exciting adventure as well as I needed to. Fortunately another colleague has taken my place and the group is now really getting to grips with what they are going to be doing.

Risk assessments have been completed, more forms filled out, visas sought, the usual passport frenzy calmed and more information shared with the young people about what lies ahead of them. (Ranging from dodgy toilets to amazing banquet meals).

As we are trying to expand both their and our skills in social media we have set up a blog for the young people to share their adventures with all of us and their Chinese counterparts. We are aiming for this to be an ongoing blog after the group return and for it to still be in use when we host (hopefully) the return group. Do visit for yourself to see how our experiment goes and here is a sample of some of their video introductions that they’ve posted so far:-

China Update – 2

Wow! We’ve just had a great weekend at Cobnor Outdoor Actvities Centre with the group of young people heading to China. It was a pretty packed weekend with lots of laughs, and serious discussions. We started off getting to know each other and working out how we wanted to work and live together both on the weekend and while away. It was a busy Friday evening as everyone chatted, learnt how to use the cameras, had the opportunity to diary their early thoughts about the project and chill out playing some old favorites.

It’s been some time since I’ve worked directly with a group so I was a bit nervous and wondered if I could still do it.  It didn’t take long to ‘warm up’ and soon we were all getting that buzz of working together, discovering new people, their hopes, interests and passions!

Saturday morning saw us out in the rain canoeing and climbing (well, I canoed but didnt climb as I had to prepare for the next session). It was an early start and the damp seeped through the skin as we paddled up towards the end of the spit. Most of the group I was with had paddled before so it was a good chance to mix, altough a couple of young people did spend some time going round in circles. Throughout the weekend we’ve been experimenting with a FLIP camera and, having got all our consents, here is a bit of a taster of what the weekend was like!

Saturday afternoon saw us all playing pictionary (!) with a twist of course! The game was fast and furious and was a great opportunity to start raising the question of stereotypes and assumptions (and how these were developed) as ‘old’ was pictured most consistently as an elderly person with a cane and glasses, ‘disabled’ through an individual in a wheelchair, and French with the eiffel tower. It was interesting to see how difficult it was for the group to draw a picture of somewhere they had never heard of, in this instance Bhutan. This was our start of exploring Culture and Identity.

With a chance to explore the papers to see how both China and great Britain were being portrayed headlines abounded and promoted an interesting discussion about where we got our information from about what was happening in the world and how the papers influcences our thoughts. As you can see, with the evening rapidly approaching we got ready to go out for a chinese meal, I know, it’s not the same as in China but the main objective was to encourage the group to use chopsticks and also to try food that they hadn’t tried before. There were a lot of new taste experiences!!!!!

Unfortunately I had to leave later that evening. The group were brilliant and worked really hard as well as having a lot of fun. I’m keen to get an update to see how everyone got on with raft building and putting together a youth opportunity fund bid. I’m sure we’ll have more news to follow soon…..

China Update – 1

Ok – I’ve decided that I need to somehow order my China inputs so I’ll just number the updates from now on. (unimaginative I know but hey…at least there’ll be some sort of order!).

Well, we’re going!! Last week I had to make a call as to whether to book flights or re-reserve them and have to pay a much higher price so I decided that we would take a risk and book them. I let our China contacts know and they quickly came back confirming the dates are ok. Still some queries on the programme (even more so as they’ve added a “tour of the mountain using ropework”!) however it looks like they have taken on board our request that the young people share 2 to a room and this will also happen on the homestay they are offering us. WoW! When I visited 2 years ago homestays were not an option so it’ll be fascinating to see how we get on.

greatwall (2)

The road to the Great Wall

We’ve had our Information Evening for friends, family and supporters which, although we tried hard not to make it doom and gloom, gave a realistic picture of what we may experience over there. (Transport, Accomodation etc) In doing this, and in making sure that everyone has a hard copy, we hope that people will be able to give informed consent. It’s things like everyone knowing that the coach we’ll use out there won’t have seat belts and the driving standards are different to ours so that they can decide if they are happy with that level of risk.

We’ve got our young people’s preparation residential this weekend coming which will be great fun (of course 🙂 ) and hopefully will give the group an insight into themselves, who they are, what culture is and also heaps of media stuff. With luck I’ll be reporting back with photos and video blogs etc as this is a key part of our work with the group. (Of course, now that we’ve been inspired!) I’ll let you know how it goes…..

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