The inaugural Youth TechCamp Bangladesh launched on September 16, and Dhaka has been buzzing ever since! Youth TechCamp Bangladesh was the latest in a series of interactive trainings around the world for alumni of State's youth exchange programs. In Bangladesh, 30 alumni (ages 17-19) from our Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program participated, learning how to use technology and social media to impact their communities for the better.
Organized in collaboration with U.S. Embassy Dhaka and iEARN, the three-day program featured lecturers from Citycell, Change Makers, and other Bangladeshi technology organizations. Presenters covered topics including social activism, citizen journalism, and digital storytelling -- all with an eye toward the critical role that connective technologies play in community activism. Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed, who teaches International Relations at Dhaka University, was a particularly popular speaker. He led a session called "How to Build Critical Mass/How to Go Viral" that participants loved -- several said that he inspired them and taught them how to carry forward their ideas for real change in Bangladesh .
Even though the youth participants use various social media platforms in their everyday lives, learning how to leverage those tools to create real-world impact was a new and exciting challenge. After the workshops, participants of the Youth TechCamp divided into three groups to plan their own digital projects, leveraging social media tools to develop community-oriented solutions.
By the end of Youth TechCamp Bangladesh, participants had learned tangible skills that would carry over into whatever professional field they choose. The young people were empowered to code their own websites, establish a successful presence on Facebook, and tell stories effectively online. They left inspired to use their new skills to, in the words of one participant, "build bridges between communities in order to make them work as one, and develop networks between citizens." Each recognized the incredible potential technology has in creating more effective campaigns on various issues and lasting social change. We can't wait to see what the group does next!