Here are some “fresh” news right after the Asia Citizens Assembly.
The assembly went extremely well. John really thought about
everything. He put together an amazing team of 20- and 30-year-old
people from all over the world. One of John’s fantastic ideas was to
organize an international youth camp exactly one month before the
assembly, to build three houses together with the inhabitants of a
small town, and therefore help those people who were most in need. The
group built, together with some builders from the town, those three
houses for three mothers with large families. This life experience
helped consolidate the group. Its members became friends… and then
took on the task of organizing the assembly.
There were about two hundred participants. In the case of the Asian
Assembly, the challenge was having delegations from various countries
of the continent come and take part in it. And it was clearly
fulfilled: there were groups from China, South Korea, Sri Lanka,
Nepal, Iran, Afghanistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and
India. There was also a dozen delegates from different regions of
those countries, and there were people from Bangalore, of course.
A rather distinct characteristic that this assembly had was that about
80% of the participants were young people between the ages of 20 and
30. This had to do, clearly, with the fact that John was a key part in
the process and that his association, Global Citizens for Sustainable
Development, was organizing it. Another key ingredient provided by
John was the organization of a first Youth Assembly two days prior to
the beginning of the Asian Assembly. Young people, then, were a step
ahead in the game.
Another strong characteristic of the Asian Assembly was that almost
60% of the participants were women, mostly of whom were young women
from China and South Korea. I could also see, though, that female
presence was very strong in the delegations from India, the
Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia as well. The delegation from Iran
was more evenly distributed: three men and four women, two of whom
were the speakers of the group.
As far as the participation of the various socio-professional groups
is concerned, the students were clearly the majority. Two other groups
with an important presence were the inhabitants, thanks to the
mobilization of the International Alliance of Inhabitants, and the
rural organizations, thanks to the presence of groups from forest
communities. There were also university participants, religious
leaders, government officials, state organisms and a remarkable
presence of artists.
Yet another fantastic idea coordinated by John and his team was to
have the assembly rest upon what has been called “the art Caravan of
the Silk Route”. So every morning we began with art presentation
sessions and each night, from 6 p.m. on, we had theatre, dancing,
singing, hip hop, Chinese calligraphy and many more activities. I
didn’t want to interfere at first, but people’s requests were so
strong and persistent that I couldn’t but have the pleasure of
eventually singing “Cucurrucucú Paloma” and “Cambia Todo Cambia”
together with a young guitarist. The troupe of drummers from Bangalore
also shook us to our bones.
As regards the content, the key of the Assembly was working, from the
very beginning, on a wide, coherent, thematic group of issues. John
has already told us about the “5 E’s”: Ethics, Education, Economy,
Equity, Ecology. This framework was kept till the very end. The main
part of the work was carried out in groups within workshops. There
were only three plenary sessions, one at the beginning and one at the
end, and the third one, halfway through the Assembly, about a rather
sensitive issue in the region: “religions and governance”. Most of the
assembly developed within workshops of 30 to 40 participants each.
Ben Quinones – who was with us in the Paris meeting – had suggested a
simple but efficient methodology: two key questions about each of the
five “E’s” (Which is its vision for Asia? and Which is its mission for
Asia?) set on a personal level and on a collective level. We didn’t
spend much time, then, analysing the problems of the regions, but
rather we tried to focus on a vision for the future, while being
conscious -at the same time - of the problems (related to education,
ecology, etc.) and, above all, of what each person does and will do to
solve them, on a personal and collective level.
For the final plenary session and each of the workshops’ report (two
people were responsible for each workshop), we came up with the idea
to organize a sort of Market of Ideas and Proposals, to avoid any
long, boring readings of the workshop reports. Each workshop
“exhibited” what had been done during the two previous days and
explained their visions and missions to the “visitors”. You felt as if
you were in a real fair or market, but it was a market of ideas,
shared experiences and, above all, proposals. People talked, asked
questions, took down notes about the workshops and had pictures taken
with the facilitators and speakers. In other words, instead of trying
to find a single final synthesis report that was complete and perfect,
we chose human interaction, in which each participant made an attempt
to create the right vision of the Assembly’s content. That is, instead
of making a thematic mapping on a PC, each participant and their group
put together their own conceptual map. This Market of Ideas might be
hard to explain, but it turned out to be a great initiative from the
methodological viewpoint, and it allowed us to generate a more dynamic
final plenary session.
Many of us noticed that the very structure of the great conference
room where the plenary sessions were held had changed: at first, the
chairs were distributed like in a classroom, with an, elevated podium
at the front; at the end, though, several circles were formed during
the Market of Ideas, until a great circle was reached at the final
The closing session was all about the future. It was considered that
there was no immediate need to set a date for a new Asian Assembly,
and it was clear that the assembly was not a mere meeting, an isolated
event, but it was rather a social, political and cultural process. So
first it is necessary to carry out what has been said and proposed.
The future will tell us when and where the second Asian Citizens
Assembly can be organized. Our final text is a ten-page synthetic
compilation of the workshop reports. All the written and visual
material (photos and videos) will be available online soon. The team
of facilitators and speakers is going to put together a platform on
the Internet, aside from the web page already launched by Global
Citizens for Sustainable Development, to keep in touch and make the
information circulate. All the documents, pictures and videos will be
uploaded on the Assembly’s site soon and distributed through Facebook,
except in China where Facebook is banned :-(
As regards language, we used mostly English. Some of the accents
turned out to be quite difficult to understand, I must add. We also
had to use two other languages: Kannada, spoken by the communities
around Bangalore, and Hindi. We nonetheless found, quiet
spontaneously, some interpreters who helped us understand the “Asian
English”. Objectively, the language was never an issue, especially
because the artistic presentations and smiles around us made
communication truly pleasant and profound.
Anyway, what I really wanted to tell you was the snapshot feelings
imprinted on me, the emotional state I’m in right now, which has led
me to write these lines.
See you soon in Aioun and then in Iquique in the Southern Cone...
One of the most exciting summer for us at Global Citizens for Sustainable Development - GCSD
This summer was one of the most exciting one for us at Global Citizens for Sustainable Development - GCSD. We had a very diverse International team working on several of our summer
projects. We had various projects and we have uploaded photographs of
the same on our facebook group. To give you some brief:
- MALHAAR 2010: Sports and Environmental Festival for school children in
Bangalore (age group 6-14). It was an awareness program for Rain-Water
Harvesting and an Inter-School Football tournament. GCSD published a
informative journal on the theme and engaged more than 10 schools in
- Climate Campus Competition (CCC): GCSD started a youth led development program from this year. This competition allowed campuses in Bangalore
to submit and defend their proposal and six campuses were given a seed
grant to implement their projects.
- WE BUILD 2010 : Three houses for the poor families (women run) were
build by volunteers from across the globe. A group of Designers/Urban
Planners/Architects from Australia designed one of our dream project
plan, i.e. Vedike - an eco-residential school and Global Living and
Learning Center. We will send you more details about the same soon.
- Asian Youth Assembly 2010: More than 150 youth from different parts of
the world were present to celebrate the International Year of Youth as
declared by the UN.
- Asian Intergenerational Assembly 2010: more than 300 International
participants (both adults and youth) were part of this to discuss key
issues such as Ecology, Ethics, Equity, Education and Economy of
Solidarity. Citizens of Asia were envisioning a common mission and
vision along these themes.
- Silk Route Art and Culture Festival: A feast of several traditions and
culture - food, dance, music, art and crafts, etc. More than 17
artists/groups performed from all parts of Asia.
- Korea-India Forum: GCSD launched this program this year to create a
platform for youth from these two countries to share, dialogue and
experience a true cross-cultural experience. We had 12 Koreans who
came to India this year and next year a group of 12 Indians will go to
South Korea in July 2011.
- China-India-Korea Forum: This was in continuation of our program,
China-India Forum that invites other partners/countries in the
dialogue process. The Forum was held at at the M.S.Swaminathan
Research Foundation in Chennai and Auroville in Pondicherry.
All of this was possible only due to the great efforts of our wonderful team.
GCSD is thankful to our team and all those involved; we acknowledge
their active participation and great efforts for our successful
Our special thanks to:
Australia: Lucinda Hartley, Kate Ferguson; Bulgaria: Sevelina Trifonova; Chile: Manuel Marin; China: Miao Zhao, Zhong Yan; France: Gabriel Marin, Jean, Pauline Zanetti, Jean-césaire Cecconi, Camille Biessy; Greece: Asimina Patkou; India: Sangeetha Raju, Ebenezer John, Manish, Bunty, Natasha Rego, Manish, Aishwarya Krishnan, Ameetha Jayaram, Ashish John, Dhiraj John, Raju, Ashokha Varshini, Vikram Aditya, Govind Singh, Vivin Richard; Korea: Sophia Ji-hye Yoon; Philippines: May-i Fabros, Patrick Erestain; Poland: Ewelina Dobosz, Mariusz Brzostek
Portugal: Nicolae Axente; Spain: Edu Hervas, Olivia Llopart; US: Lauren Winogran.
My sincere apologies if I have missed other names, but as we look back
to the summer we are inspired to work even harder, together and
eventually promote the true spirit of global citizenship.