Projects Abroad's Grass-Roots Journalism Project, Voices of the World is Growing
Our international, community-focused journalism project, Voices of the World is gaining momentum. We have now established Voices of the World clubs in India, Romania, South Africa and Senegal, thus giving the chance to local young people to attend free workshops on journalism and publish their articles in our online publication – www.voices-of-the-world.org.
Projects Abroad started the Voices of the World initiative at the end of 2010 in an attempt to make more of an impact on the local communities where we have volunteers working in journalism placements. Thus the idea to create free journalism clubs and an online platform for local young people to be published on was born.
Since then, we have had countless weekly workshops in the participating countries, attended by dozens of local participants and volunteers. We have attracted independent contributors from all over the world, who have visited our website and felt inspired to get involved. We have published a large number of articles on the website, written freely by young people, and containing their own uncensored opinions and concerns.
Participating in our clubs has given local young people a better understanding of the world, has helped them improve their English skills or their confidence, and has taught them the importance of expressing one's opinions freely, as Iulia Nistor in Romania has discovered: 'When I'm at school, I say what the teachers want me to say. Here, I can be myself'.
In some cases, the Voices of the World workshops have had a very concrete impact on the participants' future, as was the case for Courtney Taljaard in South Africa. In her mother's words: 'Courtney loved your workshops and gained so much from them. We will never know the true value of your academic reference for her acceptance to university, but it made a big difference in the end'.
We should not forget either the cultural exchange that our clubs facilitate between our international volunteers and the local aspiring journalists. Upon finishing a workshop for a group of students in India, our Australian volunteer James Lees, wrote: 'It was a pleasant surprise to meet a class of engineering students who are so passionate about the art of journalism and the media in their country. Their interest in the local community was truly inspiring and something many young Australians could learn from. My Voices of the World experience was a pleasant surprise and I look forward to participating in many more before my departure'.
It's great that many people are benefitting from this project, from the volunteers who get to experience more of their host countries through working alongside local young people, to the local people themselves who have the chance to gain new knowledge, skills and get published.
We do not intend to stop here; we plan on creating similar clubs in more countries, we are currently introducing new online features that will allow us to publish creative writing pieces and photo essays. In the future, we will work on a Video feature and we will also create a forum that will expand our initiative to cross-country debates on interesting topics. We believe it is very exciting to truly be a voice of the world.