About the Author: Anna Mussman serves as a Program Officer in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' (ECA) Youth Programs Division.
Developing Online Tools for Civic Outreach and Mobilization (DOTCOM) is a program for Armenian, American and Azerbaijani youth to create socially conscious media that can impact communities across the United States and the Caucasus. Ten students from Armenia and Azerbaijan participated in advanced media training in Vermont and Washington, DC, in the summer of 2009. In March 2010, after 14 months of intensive online social media training, nine U.S. DOTCOM students traveled to the South Caucasus to join their Azerbaijan and Armenia peers to learn more about their countries, to attend a journalism training and to participate in a social media conference in Tblisi, Georgia. Discussing the growing role of new media with journalists and government officials, students found that representatives in both countries agreed on the need to maintain strong news agencies to provide reliable information to the population.
DOTCOM students in Armenia and Azerbaijan joined their American counterparts for dynamic cultural and professional development events in each country. They spent time at embassies in Yerevan and Baku, where they spoke with representatives of the Public Affairs Sections to learn more about conditions within each country. In Baku, students also participated in Global Pulse 2010, a USAID event that brought together socially engaged participants and organizations from around the world for online discussions about global social issues.
While in the Republic of Georgia, students took an active role in the first international Social Media for Social Change Conference in the region. ECA-grantee PH International, in partnership with the Open Society Georgia Foundation, hosted more than 150 participants from 40 international organizations across the United States and Eurasia. During the conference, DOTCOM youth bloggers shared their insights about the power of social media as a tool to promote global civic activism. Their roundtable discussion about the program (in five parts) can be viewed on YouTube. Other DOTCOM-related videos can be viewed on the YouTube channel PHDOTCOM2010. Don't miss the conversation between acting Public Affairs Officer Brent Maier at the U.S. Embassy in Baku and the DOTCOMers.
For more information about the program, please see the ECA website.