Through Technology, Young Algerians Tackle Community Problems and Share Solutions at Third TechCamp
After two days of high-energy, interactive workshops and problem-solving sessions at TechCamp Algeria 2015, Amine Bouklila, a young activist from Bejaia, was eager to begin using technology to enhance his work. “I was able to link two aspects of my life during TechCamp: the world of civil society and the world of tomorrow — that of new technologies, the web, and a borderless world,” he said.
The conference, organized September 19 and 20 by World Learning in the eastern Algerian city of Constantine, brought more than 150 young civil society activists from across Algeria together with local and international experts in social media and information communication technology (ICT).
Under the theme Communicating Success: ICT for Capturing Social Impact, the event aimed to promote exchange between the young activists and help them identify new ICT and social media tools to highlight social achievements and share success stories.
“These young Algerians are developing innovative solutions to real problems they face in their communities,” Leah Bitat, World Learning field director in Algeria, said at the conference. “And in overcoming these obstacles, they can reinforce not only their technological and organizational capacities, but also their knowledge of communication strategies and techniques to better promote their success.”
Participants reviewed issues they deal with as civil society activists, brainstormed potential solutions, and worked with nine ICT experts, or“SuperGeeks”, to develop and share their successes through mobile applications, e-communication strategies, media relations, and content development strategies for social media, among other methods.
“Serving as a guest speaker, or ‘SuperGeek’, was like being a rock star!” said Chris Iverson, program officer for World Learning, who presented on the benefits civil society organizations can gain from using social media. “The energetic and intelligent Algerian youth maximized the most out of their time with us to learn about new ways of incorporating the use of social media and technology to make a positive impact in civil society. Working with the participants — enthusiastic, inquisitive, talented and intelligent Algerian youth — was by far the most enjoyable aspect of TechCamp.”
Over the course of the conference, the activists developed projects include new online civil society directories, apps to help youth find volunteer opportunities, and ready-made communication strategies for youth organizations.
According to participant Hadjer Tennah from Adrar, connecting with other young activists and the experts at the conference was an “awesome, life-changing experience.”
Another participant, Marwa Belmekki, reflected on the event’s impact for her future work. “It gave me the inspiration and huge power to realize my projects and turn my simple ideas into a beautiful reality,” she said.
World Learning organized TechCamp Algeria under the Promoting Education, Altruism and Civic Engagement (PEACE) project in partnership with the Algerian Federation of Disabled Peoples (FAPH) and with support from the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). The PEACE project aims to build a bridge of cooperation between universities, civil society and the world of work in order to improve the professional skills of students, including people with disabilities, through volunteer and internship opportunities to better prepare them to succeed in the job market. Staff from World Learning’s five university Career Development Centers across the country also participated in the conference.
This is the third TechCamp organized in Algeria by World Learning following previous editions in Ouargla in 2013 and Bejaia in 2014. TechCamp is a global program consisting of conferences in more than 90 countries worldwide that connect technology experts with civic groups and young activists in interactive groups to identify technological means to overcome local challenges.