Access students implemented civic engagement projects within the International Outreach Fund
September, 30 2013
The International Outreach Fund project aimed to increase youth civic engagement through EFL school educational projects in 2 regions from Moldova, including Transnistria (the breakaway territory located between the River Dniester and the eastern Moldovan border with Ukraine which after the War of Transnistria in 1992 proclaimed itself an independent state) involving over 50 participants, who worked closely with teachers, school principals, mass media and local authorities in their communities. In addition to improving their English speaking skills, the project offered its participants outside the capital city the opportunity to develop important characteristics of citizenship and result in greater civic participation later in life, which is so important for the health and performance of democracy in Moldova. To ensure a successful country wide youth engagement, the project also ran online, through a common project blog where participants posted regularly pictures, videos, interviews. Also, the blog will ensure a good online platform for new future ideas for creative, innovative civic projects.
The project comprised 5 implementing stages, each requiring participants' critical thinking, activism, creativity, and enthusiasm. Thus, students from Ungheni, Varnita/Bender sites and 4 schools ("Vasile Alecsandri" Lyceum from Ungheni, "Mihai Eminescu" Lyceum from Ungheni, "Varnita Lyceum" from Varnita, Anenii-Noi, "Alexandru cel Bun" Lyceum from Bender) worked together in teams of 20 to brainstorm on possible projects which involved local authorities and other strategic partners, such as: American Corners, youth councils, city halls, mayors, local NGOs, school authorities etc.
Also, they developed the idea of the project's blog, called "You Do Change the World", which was created using Wordpress.com platform.
To form youth spirit and activism, Access Microscholarship Program in collaboration with Peace Corps Volunteers and "Sansa" NGO organized a 8-day training on the importance of youth civic engagement for each of the regional teams, including team-building activities, and sessions on basics of project writing. The training followed the models presented by Innovation Center for Community and Youth Development and iEARN (International Education and Research Network).
Then, regional teams worked together to elaborate a project which would benefit their communities and connect local authorities, school children and regional NGOs. Project coordinators closely supervised each team and the planning process. When working on the planning stage, participants followed the stages: 1.Get Ready (get to know their community and their partners and build relationships), 2. Plan (create a vision and plan for where they want to go); 3. Implement (take action to make their community stronger); 4. Sustain (reflect, improve and make connections so their work will last). Finally, there were proposed 2 project ideas: "Buy, Use, Recycle It!", by Ungheni group, and ""4H:Happy Human in a Happy Home" by Varnita/Bender group.
The projects included activities on themes such as: cleaning-up, promoting a healthy lifestyle, supporting environmental issues and the importance of recycling.To be specific, "Buy, Use, Recycle It!" project aimed to promote ecological ideas to use recycling materials in creative ways, with its 3 main objectives: (1) to interview people about recycling, ways to recycle they know and use; (2) to create a fashion line out of recycling materials; (3) to promote recycling ideas with the help of posters of ecological messages.
On its turn, the "4H" project intended to persuade people to give up their addictions, such as smoking, and bad habits as throwing trash on the ground, which affect their health, represent vivid sources of pollution, negatively influence the environment and question the future of our planet.
Both projects were implemented in the local parks of Ungheni and Varnita/Bender. The participants' feedback, surveys and interviews, pictures, videos were included in the final media presentation of each project, placed online on project's blog.