After wonderful three learning days with our first cohort of Doing Democracy, early this month we organized second cohort and like last time we had a blast. Yet again, 29 of us came together for a journey filled with civic knowledge,skills and action from 3-5 May 2013.The three day training seminar consisted of theoretical concept of Democracy and political culture, democratic practices,learning leadership skills, lectures and workshops where the discussion between the attendees was central. The topics covered by the seminar were Democratization, Human Rights, Civic Leadership, Debate/Communication and Leadership skills.The experimenting part of this project is that the attendees of the seminar are trained to inform and empower fellow youth – the seminar is thus a part of a broader process that continues after the seminar. The purpose of three days training was to create a safe, interactive and enjoyable learning atmosphere in which participants have the opportunity to creatively explore practical ways to understand political culture, democracy and act upon social change in Nepal.
Day I: The first day of the training focused on knowing each other, playing cooperative leadership games which helped to build trust among participants and the organizer as well as develop a sense of involvement and willingness to delegate, respect each other’s value and participate in shared decisions and understanding more about team. All team-building exercises were followed by debrief where facilitator explained the purpose of the activities and took feedback from the participants.Then we moved on to respecting individual identity sessions. It was interesting to know that all our participants have different identities based on caste, culture, religion, geography, education, profession etc. however, upon asked to choose one, most the participants chose the identity of being a NEPALI. All prioritize identities were put on the democracy wall as a reminder for everyone so that we learn to respect identity of others that are way different .Then we moved on to a lecture session about understanding Democracy, need of democratic political culture, involvement of young people that we see in Nepal. Following the lecture session, participants were taken to Audio/Visual session and showcased three short documentaries about active citizenship. The documentaries were to inspire young people to take initiative and demonstrate their leadership skills no matter how big or small initiatives they could take. To wrap up the day, individual reflection was done to get the feedback from the participants and make changes if needed.
Day II: Our second day started with leadership concept followed by leadership workshop. The session aimed at broadening participants’ perception of good leadership. Following a short presentation, participants were introduced to different leadership activities focusing on different leadership styles, visioning exercise, communication, risk-taking, problem solving, collaboration etc. The workshop was followed by a plenary discussion of the potential discrepancies and subsequently what changes are desirable with regards to leadership in Nepal. For our second session, we did a group work based on analyzing social factors: unifiers and dividers. Different group came up with the factors that are unifying and/or diving Nepali youth in the name of political ideologies, religion, caste, class, socio-economic conditions etc.Following the lunch, we did a Mock Election to help participants understand the free and fair electoral process in a democracy. It was a highlight of the second day as participants not just learnt the concept but also enjoyed the process and they got to elect and be elected and exercise voting rights. Upon reflection, one of the participants shared that during examination, she had to mug up the election procedure and by joining Doing Democracy workshop she could learn the process and she further plans to conduct the similar activity in her school. We also participants to a short community trip to a nearby village for community work exposure and inspire them to take initiatives in their own communities. To end the day, we did daily reflection of the sessions.
Day III: Our final day touched upon the much talked about subject in the country “Constitution”. Participants were briefed about the concept of Constitution and given hands out which had 20 articles; the group had to come up with their own Constitution prioritizing articles with consensus among all members. Plus, if the group wanted to add any new articles, they could do so but again with consensus. It was enriching to see how youth prioritizes issues given the political turmoil going on in the country. After all of these exercises, our students were ready to pitch on one pressing issue or idea that they would like to get involved and be a part of solution in their community. It was incredible to learn that students want to work on issues such as awareness about need of democratic political culture, gender discrimination, street children, youth participation in politics, strengthening student and youth politics in colleges, anti-corruption campaign so on and so forth. All in all three days went very fruitful in terms of learning and doing democracy now and in future as our students shared they spent their time and energy in bringing out something good for future collaboration. And finally it was time to bid farewell to each other and stay connected in future as the process of doing democracy continues beyond three days camp.