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A story has the power to inspire: closing of the SIGNIS Congress

A story has the power to inspire: closing of the SIGNIS Congress

Québec, June, 21st, 2017 (SIGNIS). After two full days of discussions, learnings, and speeches, the SIGNIS World Congress came to end. The closing ceremony was a time of celebration and remembrance, as people were awarded and honoured. John Pungente, SJ, was given the SIGNIS Life Time Achievement award. This pioneer of media education was born in 1939. He has worked at the Center for the Study of communication and culture, created award winning television series, to help media literacy teachers in teaching contemporary TV and movies. He influenced and still influences a large number of media educators in SIGNIS.  The winner of the #IseeHope contest, a video competition organized by SIGNIS for young people, was revealed: Edgar Borgia, from Indonesia, for his short film "In your eyes". The jury gave its prize to the film for its "depiction of a young lady struggling with her conscience". This film "awakens in us hope and faith in our ability to choose our destiny and be guided by our truest values." The film pointed also that a lot of abortions could be avoided if the boyfriend, family, and friends take also their responsibility.  French Canadians who worked for Unda, OCIC and SIGNIS were then honoured. The commitment and professionalism have helped SIGNIS to have a solid foundation. Jean-Paul Guillet, S. Huguette, Fr. Pierre Murray, Fr. Pierre Belanger and many others were thanked. prof. Guy Marssechault gave a short overview of the international commitment French Canadians had in  OCIC, Unda and now SIGNIS in the last ninety years. Jim McDonnell, the programme coordinator of the Congress, asked the audience: "How will we, as communicators, convey hope?". He identified four themes that came up during the different sessions: The challenge of the new, the power of creativity, the need for collaboration and the commitment to hope. He also underscored the power of story to inspire, to create and foster change. Finally, Gustavo Andujar, SIGNIS president, said that “the Congress has marked a propitious moment to trace its course towards the future, in continuity with a long and rich history of almost 90 years of service, but also with imagination and inventiveness ... we count on you and the extraordinary family of SIGNIS, to begin, with this jubilee year for the 90th anniversary of the Association, a new era of service to the goal of peace, justice and reconciliation”. Pictures of the event are available here. (Pictures by Samuel Tessier).
Dialogue and inclusion of young people are keys for the future of Communications

Dialogue and inclusion of young people are keys for the future of Communications

Québec, June, 20th 2017 (SIGNIS). « Building Peace and Hope in a world of cultural and religious diversity » was the first plenary of the day. As our world is Hyper-diverse, there is a need for media, and especially faith-based media, to address the issues of racism and to reach a young audience. To launch the discussion, Abdul-Rehman Malik, director of the Insight Film Festival, screened the short film “Inspire”, by Shehroze Khan, which explores how different people, from different faiths, culture and backgrounds, can all be united by positive actions. “Storytelling and quality research are the key to change people’s understanding of reality”, says Patrice Brodeur, from the International Dialogue Center in Vienna. Positive stories need to be shared, as we live in a world filled with bad news. Jaime Carril Rojas, from the Latin American interreligious network on peace education, explained how he utilizes television to create campaign that build bridges amongst people. A bit like the Tv channel Salt & Light does. Their motto is “opening doors and building bridges”. They create programmes that create interreligious dialogue. Tom Rosica, founder and CEO, explains that they are employing young people to keep the content fresh, and that comes from different background and cultures. It is important to have “solid beautiful content”, and “not to focus on the number of hits on social media”. The importance of reaching young people was the center of the next plenary. Since 2009, SIGNIS has been “building the next generation of communicators”. The project is now called CommLab, and gathers young people from different nationalities once a year, to learn and improve their skills as media professionals. Lawrence, from Kenya, reminded how important it is to include young people into the professional world. Less and less young people want to be involved in the Church activities, because “it is not cool”, but also because they feel that the ‘older’ won’t let them in, and don’t trust them enough. Vi Cao says that “young people is not just linked to the age of the person”. She adds that SIGNIS is building the “next generation of communicators”, but that the “next generation is a question of spirit: if you have a young heart, an open mind and you are open to new technologies, then you are part of this next generation”. Two plenaries filled with hope and confidence in the future, that have inspired the SIGNIS World congress participants. Pictures by Samuel Tessier