Children and adolescent communicators from twelve different countries launch the Latin American and Caribbean Network LACVOX
San Salvador, September 9, 2008 - UNICEF convened more than 30 adolescent communicators from 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries, in San Salvador, El Salvador. These young people, representing their national communication networks, met to exchange experiences and strengthen their capacity through the creation of a Latin American Network of children and adolescent communicators, which will be named LACVOX.
"The network is an opportunity to get to know each other’s cultures; I hope that it will not only develop with the participation of adolescents from urban areas, but that it will also include indigenous children and adolescents as they know many things that people from the city aren’t familiar with. We want to see boys and girls involved in the mass media so that they can express their views and demand the compliance of their rights, "said Carlos Eduardo Mamani, a 17-year-old Aymara indigenous boy, who is a member of the NGO Echoes of Youth which in turn forms part of the Bolivian National Network of children and adolescent communicators (Ninacom). At the age of 8 years Carlos joined the local communications network where he now coordinates two programs, Youth Radar, directed by adolescents and youth, and La Colmena (the beeyard), produced by girls and boys. These programs are broadcasted from La Paz all over Bolivia.
The language barrier was not an obstacle for the young communicators and participants of the one-week workshop. When there was no interpreter, body language was enough to understand each other. All participants learned a lot from each other, teaching their fellows new words in Awa, Aymara, Quechua, Creole, Dutch, Spanish and English. Getting to know different cultures and languages was inspiring for the young participants: many expressed their wish to take classes in these languages to improve communication among them. "This experience has opened my eyes and I realized the importance of the Spanish language in this region", commented Larissa Windzak from Suriname.
"It was a great intercultural exchange as we all recognized our true identity as Latin Americans and Caribbeans. This workshop has been a rewarding experience because we had the chance to exchange information about what we are doing in the different countries," said Leandro Rosal, one of two delegates from Nicaragua.
The Network seeks to integrate all of the Latin American and Caribbean countries that have participation platforms for children and adolescents communicators, which aim at strengthening their voices through the mass media so that their opinions will be heard by decision makers and society at large. It is important that the young peoples’ opinions are taken into consideration when decisions are made that affect their integral development.
"I think the network is a very good initiative as it interconnects the adolescents and young communicators; it is motivating for us to see that we are capable of producing our own programs which allow us to interact more with the people. What I liked the most of the meeting was the Multicultural Fair, because now I know what other countries are doing. I also liked the training on how to do interviews, how to manage this issue and to be attentive to the interviewee’s answers " expressed Elvia Bisbiscus from Colombia, an Awa-Unipa indigenous girl of 16 years. Elvia anchors radio programs about the cultural values of her ethnicity and health issues, among others, in the radio La Voz de los Awa.
The adolescents put their communication skills into practice by covering the inauguration of the "Third Ibero-American Forum of Local Governments: Youth and Development: Local Public Policies ", which took place in San Salvador, El Salvador, from September 4 to 5. This event allows politicians to make recommendations to the Summit of Ibero-American Heads of State which will take place next October and will have “Youth and Development” as its central theme.
We got to know different traditions, got to know each other better, what others think; it was an opportunity to interact and express opinions, exchange ideas, and of course to choose the name of the Network, talk to other children and adolescents. We learned about other countries’ typical music, we learned new dances and enjoyed what others had to say. “It was a great learning opportunity and I will take the new knowledge back with me to my country to share and implement it” concluded 12-year-old Evelyn Yamileth Ortez, from San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
The Latin American and Caribbean Intercultural Network of Young Communicators – LACVOX - will be able to post its best productions on the regional UNICEF Web site, and the boys, girls and adolescents from all over the region will maintain a systematic communication flow to fully benefit from the workshops’ valuable experience.
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