EU in BiH holds #E4U media boot camp for high school students

How to convey the youth’s viewpoints on issues such as youth mobility, gaps in the economic and education systems, peer violence, hate speech and brain drain, and how can they be tackled in a creative and fun way?

A group of 60 high school students from all over BiH met in Tarčin near Sarajevo from 15 to 17 April to discuss these topics during the three-day EU-funded #E4U media boot camp. Three days packed with sessions of inspiring, educational and experience-driven speeches and workshops delivered by some of the best communication experts in the region laid the foundations for the conceptualization of five creative campaigns promoting the youth`s views on the identified problems.

A survey conducted by the Network of Councils of High School Students in BiH among 16,000 students across BiH showed that youth mobility, gaps in economic and education systems, peer violence, hate speech and brain drain have been identified as the most pressing issues by the high school students themselves.

In its efforts to create space for youth to express their opinion and actively engage as social actors with their own views and contributions, the EU in BiH put together a series of lectures and workshops aiming to empower young people to translate their ideas and thinking about the most pressing issues into effective and easy-to-understand media campaigns.

To be understood you must first understand

“To have your words and messages heard you first need to make them digestible, which can be achieved only by knowing how we as humans communicate. Our ability to properly understand others does have its limits and we need to be aware of them. Reaching understanding is a learning process. Please use this opportunity to learn, ask, check your ideas, and be open to others’ opinions. That is the only way to take your rightful place in influencing the political decision making affecting your lives,” said the EU in BiH Head of Communications, Jamila Milovic-Halilovic.

During the first day, packed with dynamic, education and interactive lectures, participants agreed that although each generation faces different challenges it seemed that resistance to change was universally present throughout different periods and in all societies. They found that there were experiences to be shared between older and younger generations which all could learn from.

There is always freedom to choose

“I feel as if I am 12 or 13 years old and I need to learn everything all over again. To learn what is good and what is bad.” Presenting his vision of what he termed a ‘moral and economic coordinate system’, Rambo said we all could end up in one of the quadrants –good deeds resulting in public benefit vs. bad deeds inflicting societal damage. “You can put yourself in any of these quadrants. So, there is always a choice. Your choice.” (Rambo Amadeus, Montenegrin recording artist, composer and performer)

Participants coming from all over BiH seized the opportunity to raise and discuss many issues with some of the region’s top experts. “Do I need to leave my country in order to self-actualize?” asked one of the girls. This was the issue discussed most vigorously during the boot camp. “We all have a tendency to generalize,” stressed Sarajevo Faculty of Economics Professor Melika Husic-Mehmedovic, “but if aware of this we can improve our understanding of the environment. Look for different sources of information, ask for statistical data, talk to some experts in the area. You might then come to learn that there are people that have self-actualized and fulfilled their dreams in this country too.”

Good communication requires good will and knowledge

Participating students were taken through the process of formulating the goals, brainstorming, storyboard creation, video production planning, video placement and promotion. Ten teams of students used the second day of the boot camp to brainstorm their ideas on how to communicate selected topics to their publics. Expert mentors worked with them throughout the day assisting them with useful tips and tricks in order to come up with the most effective presentation before the four-member jury, which was tasked with selecting the five best pitches.

Beware of images

“I am aware that in this digital world my lecture might end up online and be watched not only by these students but their parents and peers too. It does make me aware of responsibility my words carry. We all need to be aware of images and messages carrying multiple meanings. We too read our own meanings into messages we see. I am here to share my knowledge about how to avoid these traps and craft messages and select images that will convey our understanding of certain issues to our intended publics.” (Vladimir Djukelić, Serbian internationally renowned director of commercials for domestic and international markets)

Five best pitches selected for video production and placement

During the third day of the boot camp, the four member jury had the truly difficult task of selecting the five best out of the 10 presented story ideas and recommend them for further creative video production. Video production experts will work with the five winning teams to produce video spots during next 4 weeks when the whole community of high school students will be invited to vote for the best one. While all five teams will have their video material placed on various media channels, the final winning team will have a chance to travel to Brussels and present their video campaign to high-level EU officials.

Participants of the boot camp demonstrated they all shared a passion for democracy and did not shy away from learning how to take part in it. BiH society needs young people to voice their interest in politics and work towards democratic solutions that everyone in BiH can benefit from.

Youth deserves our support

“It was my privilege to work with the young and talented people with so many ideas and such great energy. But, I was truly thunderstruck by unexpected outburst of emotions during the farewell moments when some of them started to cry. It made me think how politicians make their lives harder than they had to be. But it is this experience and emotions that these young people are taking with them back to their towns and local environments.” (Zenit Đozić, famous BiH actor and producer)

As many of them said their goodbyes in tears, the skills they acquired and the friends they made from across the country will be the key that sees them take more proactive steps in helping BiH progress towards the European Union and realize its full potential.

The European Union in BiH will continue supporting projects strengthening the ability of youth to have their voices heard in BiH society and actively engage in formulating policies leading to better quality of life and work for all in BiH.

You will be able to follow their campaigns at the following links: