Asambleas Ciudadanos


 

the Citizens' Assembly in Asia

 

 

“Fresh” news on the Bangalore Assembly in August 2010

Translations : English . français . Español


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 plenary session.


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...


Gustavo Marin.





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 the tournament.
  • 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 summer.


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.


John Anugraha.


 

 

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