In October 2014, several BC students took a break from their studies and flew to Taiwan to represent Canada in The Seminar on Youth Public Participation and International Humanitarianism in the Age of Globalization. This seminar was a hub for students around the globe to come together and share their experiences in international affairs and sustainable volunteerism. Some of the countries represented in the conference were the Dominican Republic, Ireland, New Zealand, Israel, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. A representative from each country presented and held a discussion on various topics from prevailing issues within his or her community to maintaining stability in NGOs.
University of Victoria student and co-Chair of the Amnesty International Club, Hana Mildenberger, sparked a discussion about social media with the students. In her talk, she explained how social media can help youth access information and build networks, as well as its effects on youth political participation. She also discussed some of the dangers inherent in these networks, and how modern humanitarian organizations and NGOs have been affected by mass and social media logic.
"I hoped it would inspire [the students] to network with each other and to think critically about the kind of information they get from NGOs and news sources," said Hana. "What made this experience valuable for me were all the other youth I got to meet and talk with during the conference. It was a privilege to be able to discuss issues that matter to me with such a variety of intelligent and motivated young people from all over the world."
After a two day series of talks and discussions, the students participated in a world café where they were able to share amongst themselves their opinions and experiences on the various discussions presented. Human rights activist and student from Dominican Republic, Juan Santana, found the world café “refreshing”, as it “got to discuss topics with people from a very different context from [him]”. Exchanging ideas with people of different cultures and beliefs allowed the students to take home a new perspective and approach on resolving international affairs within their own communities.
By Anna Fernandez, a Seminar on Youth Public Participation and International Humanitarianism in the Age of Globalization participant
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