The Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD)

The mission of BCMD is to nurture a culture of democracy by strengthening media, expanding public discourse, and providing essential training and education for key persons who will have a direct impact on Bhutan's democratic transition and the creation of democratic institutions.
May 8, 2015

Building on to our existing programmes at the lab

Young and talented singer during Open Mic Night
Young and talented singer during Open Mic Night

Dear friends, donors and supporters,

We are glad to inform you all that our Media Lab is becoming livelier with each passing moment and more people are becoming a part of our small community. We are moving forward and we thank you for your support!

What have we been up to?

As our space matures, we are building on some of the programmes at the Media Lab that we feel are essential to enable young people in Bhutan to share their concerns and creative solutions to some of our current challenges. To do this, we have been leading monthly ‘Open Mic Nights’ and ‘Social Media Conversations’ at our lab. We continue to host photography and multimedia storytelling workshops with youths and members of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Bhutan, and that worked out great! Check out one of the multimedia storiesHERE. Our programmes are evolving at the lab and with your support we will continue to build on our existing programmes and experiment with new programmes.

Activities at the lab in this quarter:

IT’S TIME AGAIN FOR OPEN MIC NIGHT PEOPLE!

Please excuse the capitalized letters indicating we are screaming (obviously), but we tend to get seriously excited with our monthly open mic nights. We have been leading these open mic events for several months and its been a great experience. About 35-40 people, mostly school, college, employed and out-of-school youth, attend the event regularly. A few members of parliament also come in on occasions to understand the pulse and the views of the youth.

Most of the participants are shy to share their voice in the beginning but the casual setting during the event gets them relaxed and eventually they start opening up. (Remember we're a country where classrooms are large and inadequate when it comes to providing space for children to share their ideas. Hence, some of us are unused to speaking up in public. ) Some of the youth are really taking advantage of this platform to practice their public speaking. Our open mic nights are equally balanced in terms of fun activities and discussion on issues. The open mic nights bring in a diverse set of views from people from all walks of life on different issues. Past topics discussed include creative engagement, alcoholism and youth, and employment opportunities. It helps us in building a strong community of concerned citizens.

Social Media Conversations!

What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Social Media’? About 60 percent of the participants, who are usually outspoken, shout ‘FACEBOOK,’ 30 percent whisper ‘Facebook’ in their minds and 10 percent of them are wondering what's really happening. Facebook, among all social networking sites, is the most used social media for all sorts of communication by a majority of the Bhutanese population. And, no matter how easy it is to stay connected and communicate instantly, it does come with a price. Defamation, anonymity, privacy concerns to name a few.

In the past months, we have led several of these conversation at the lab and as much as we feel that we have created awareness on the ‘responsible engagement on social media,’ we have also learned a great deal from our participants sharing their ‘social media experience.’ Middle and higher school youths come in to our lab and talk about issues regarding social media. The school visits to our lab really enables the youth to become responsible users of social media, especially Facebook. We have had youth sharing how they believed everything they read on Facebook, spend most times chatting on Facebook and adding all sorts of people on their friend list. Through the conversation they learn to weigh the good and the risks of using social media, and become more aware of what they post.

Training youth

Realising the importance of young people at the present and in the future, we decided to support youth skills in engagement.  More youth groups are emerging in Bhutan,, both informal youth groups and registered youth groups. An informal youth group is subjected to many challenges like group management, communication, facilitation and more.

BCMD led a 2-day facilitation training for 3 informal youth groups to begin with. These youth groups are the ones that we work closely with and we plan to cover more youth groups in the future. The lab provided an excellent space, tangible and intangible, for members of the youth groups to come and work together even if they belong to different youth groups. The facilitation training allowed the selected members of the youth groups to learn organisational skills, facilitation skills and also allowed them to strengthen their network with other youth groups.

Last weekend, we piloted a community mapping project in a village nearby and the youth were at the lab to prepare their charts, pictures, posters and presentations for the village elders. They not only had a great walk through a Bhutanese village but they met with 2 village guides who showed them village life, local plants and food, and shared local concerns. The lab hosted a community mapping project last summer that resulted in an exhibition ion the lab and the youth centre.

Future plans

We have great plans for the media lab in the coming months. Apart from hosting regular open mic nights and social media conversations, our programme schedule will offer photography trainings, multimedia storytelling workshops, creative writing workshops and leadership workshops. All of these activities will benefit many youth who are in school, college, employed and out-of-school.

The lab also serves has a home for our youth groups to lead their meetings and discussions. We intend to keep our lab open for youths to drop in and learn how to use digital media equipments and software during the weekends when we do not have any activities going on. In a country where 6 out of 10 people are youth, and many are grappling with issues like employment, how can we create a more sustainable society in a small country of less than a million people, and what roles may we play as citizens in a new democracy? All these are being discussed at the media lab. Help us keep the thinking and the action going. We look forward to your continued support to make these activities happen!

If you would like to know more about our programmes, get in touch with us at bcmd@bcmd.bt or check out our organisations websitewww.bcmd.bt. You can also find us on Facebook and YouTube by just typing ‘Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy.’ Tell us what you think of our current programmes and we are happy to get more ideas from you to engage young people in our new and flourishing democracy.

Football star sharing his passion for football
Football star sharing his passion for football
Youngh Active Citizens (YAC) works on a group work
Youngh Active Citizens (YAC) works on a group work
Youth Initiative (YI) discussing their group issue
Youth Initiative (YI) discussing their group issue
Y Co-OP members in discuss cooperatives in Bhutan
Y Co-OP members in discuss cooperatives in Bhutan
Member of Parliament, Sangay Khandu, at Open Mic N
Member of Parliament, Sangay Khandu, at Open Mic N
Open Mic Night themed
Open Mic Night themed 'Creative Engagement'
Young mapper shows community strength to its membe
Young mapper shows community strength to its membe
Kabesa villagers listen to youth on their village
Kabesa villagers listen to youth on their village
Prof Takasan with youth and kabesa villagers
Prof Takasan with youth and kabesa villagers
One of the findings from the mapping excercise
One of the findings from the mapping excercise
Feb 4, 2015

Youth Symposium to Inspire and Enable Action

Thirty-five Bhutanese youth across the country came together in Thimphu on 23 and 24 December 2014to discuss issues that they considered the most important to them.

The two-day forum called Youth Symposium organised by the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy provided an opportunity for youth to openly discuss the challenges facing their generation and envision possible solutions to them. 

The youth discussed how to conduct a dialogue more generally and specific issues of education, employment, and mental health.

Experts on education, employment, and mental health made short presentations to the youth followed by question and answer sessions.

The solutions session of the symposium offered a platform for inclusive participation, enabling the participants to review and explore the issues confronting them and to offer ideas on how to address them.

Feb 4, 2015

Enabling GAOs to be Effective Media Focal Persons

Twenty-one gewog administrative officers (GAOs) attended a three-day media sensitisation workshop in Thimphu from 19 to 21 November 2014.
Aimed at making the GAOs effective in sharing public information, the workshop was part of the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy’s (BCMD) continuing series of media sensitisation workshops forGAOs.
For the past three years, BCMD has been organising various activities to create an informed and participatory society. Educating GAOs on the media has been one of them.   
Besides learning about media ethics, the GAOs learnt the basics of writing news stories and press releases. Led by professional editors, the participants also learned self-editing and wrote a story each of their gewogs.
As in every media workshop for GAOs, the participants took part in a lively question and answer session with the members of the press.
The stories the GAOs wrote as part of a writing exercise were edited and posted on their blog http://gewogadministrativeofficers.blogspot.com/. 
 

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