Active participation

On Tuesday 8th February, our team of volunteers was able to present a new course at the Mihai Eminescu high school. Precisely, 33 students from 10th grade were involved in this interactive project: class 10-E. The whole workshop lasted 40 minutes.

During this workshop, we talked with students about “active participation”. It is the process of interacting and having an impact on society by different tools of communication. Broadly, we aimed to teach them what can be defined as youth active participation and how this concept can help them. Especially, in a digital society. To do that, we prepared interactive activities to create a pleasant working atmosphere.

 

From playing to learning

 

At the beginning, we played a game called “broken phone”, as an icebreaker’s activity. We chose this well-known and fun activity to give students confidence. They had to stand up and  form three lines. After that, the students had to whisper one sentence to each other from the beginning to the end of the line. However, we played loud music in the class to make it harder.

The sentence was: “People says that nothing is impossible, but they do nothing every day“.

We found that funny as well as linked to our “active participation” topic of the day. They really liked it, although they failed to keep the sentence intact. It was fun!
Thanks to this icebreaker, we came to explain our subject. It is important for us that the students feel confident to participate in the workshop. Therefore, Doina reminded them that they can share their opinions without fear, ask for help and, above all, have fun.

 

Knowing the boundaries of the topic

 

On top of that, Theo, our new volunteer, began with our first interactive activity of the day. He had written seven papers in advance with different online participation examples. Among those:

  • Sharing an article you liked in a WhatsApp group
  • Gossiping online about the teacher’s shoes
  • Share a song you recorded on TikTok
  • Complain about a new law in an Instagram story …

The goal was to make them guess and learn the boundaries of what is considered active participation and what is not.  Divided in four groups, the students had to vote on whether they were “active” participation examples or not. Meaning, if those activities had an impact on society. One of each group came to the board to stick their “right’ or “wrong” sticky-notes on each paper.

To our surprise, the students were really divided on some examples. For instance, on the last one mentioned above. They didn’t think that complaining about a law on Instagram could be active participation, but politicians do it everyday on TV or in newspapers!

 

Applying what they learned

 

Then, we started our second interactive activity. In contrast to the first one, it was a study case in the form of a fake story. Doina gave to groups printed copies of the story. In short, the study case told the story of Andrea, a young girl from the same high school who fell down a staircase in front of many students. Although she was ok and laughed after falling, she was filmed and the video was widely shared among them.

The class E had to answer if they would have shared the video themselves, but also what would they do to have an active participation and impact on this story. Talking to her ? Only a few students suggested it. Standing up against friends who are sharing the video ? Actually, many of them thought it wouldn’t be effective if the others didn’t care. Worse, some thinked they could become pariahs in the eyes of others.

In the end, we hope that this not-so-obvious example of cyberbullying made them learn the obstacles that they could face when participating actively. Finally, we thanked them for their participation. After that, their feedback sheets told us that they really liked this kind of group work and constant interactions. We’ll continue in this way then!

 

Location: Mihai Eminescu high school, Constanta, Romania
Date: 8th of February, 2022

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