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SIGNIS workshops create New Artisans for a Culture of Peace in Asia

Wednesday 2 December 2015, by SIGNIS

Phnom Penh, December 2nd, 2015 (SIGNIS/ L Jay/ Larry Rich). In Cambodia and Malaysia, young Asians gathered in late October and early November for two training workshops aimed at forming the next generation of Church communicators. The workshops are concrete steps towards two goals emphasized in the Future Search process at the last World Congress: engaging youth and linking with sister organizations in joint projects. Pax Christi, Maryknoll and Fondacio joined with SIGNIS to make the events possible.

New Artisans for a Culture of Peace, a 10-day workshop, was held at the Catholic Communications Center (CSC) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as a project of SIGNIS Asia in conjunction with Maryknoll and Pax Christi.

Participating were 11 young people from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines (the Pax Christi representative), and Sri Lanka, all sent by their dioceses or local Catholic communications organizations. The workshop process focused on Church social and communications teaching and their application in the development of media production skills as well as a critical understanding of how media works.

Production skills were learned through the making of four different short videos. First participants were sent into the local neighborhood to capture an interview or story using only a Smartphone. The attendees were then assigned to teams—an important means to developing cross-cultural communications skills given the international character of the group.

They then did a one-minute advocacy piece on a social problem. Each video required increased skill: the third involved coverage of a Maryknoll project serving the hearing-impaired which required pre-production research and planning. The final production took them to a Japanese lay missionary project in the so-called "garbage village," where each of three teams were given a different area of focus in a challenging environment.

In addition, there were sessions on the use of Facebook posts, photography, and an extended discussion of ethics and advertising, using materials from local media brought to the seminar by participants.. A photography assignment during a visit to the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum was cause for a profound group reflection afterwards.

On the eve of the close of the workshop there was a Taize prayer service in which the New Artisans committed themselves to continue learning and to work as a network in their respective regions—South and East Asia. Participants received certificates at the workshop closing, and were addressed by Fr. Chatsirey Roeung, Chancellor of the Phnom Penh vicariate, representing Apostolic Vicar Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler.

In Malaysia a dozen young pastoral workers affiliated with the Fondacio lay missionary organization met in the Council of Churches facility in Petaling Jaya for an intensive, six-day version of the New Artisans workshop, called Beyond the Lens. The workshop was aimed at the use of media in their pastoral work to create a culture of peace. Participants came from East and West Malaysia as well as Brunei. The event was a joint project of SIGNIS Malaysia and Fondacio.

The workshop closed with a day-long session on cinema and its use in pastoral reflection, which was also attended by members of local parishes..

The workshops were the brainchild of Media Education head Lawrence John since that VJ Project was established in 2009. Larry Rich of SIGNIS in the USA worked as project lead with Lawrence John to further develop the workshop plan over most of the past 12 months and also to conduct the cinema segment. Michael Jones of Maryknoll joined them in the actual facilitation of both workshops. In Cambodia Vi Cao, former VJ, played a vital role in coordinating and running the workshop. Dr. Magimai Pragrasam of SIGNIS India joined the team as a presenter in Phnom Penh. In Cambodia, special thanks is due to Ly Sovanna, vice president of SIGNIS Asia and Director of CSC and his staff, whose collaboration was indispensable.

The long-term hope is to further develop and offer the workshop in other regions of SIGNIS, as well as becoming self-sustaining by contributing financially to the overall budget.

Discover here the pictures of the event.

Watch here one of their videos. Watch more on the YouTube channel.

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