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Nagorno Karabakh: Peacebuilding Goes Online

This post is part of our special coverage Caucasus Conflict Voices.

With stereotypes and alternate and usually contradictory as well as inaccurate perceptions of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh still prevalent in both societies, a new online youth media project has been set up by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State to be implemented by Project Harmony.

Among the 90 students involved in the program, ten students from each country will be selected to participate in an advanced media education program in Vermont in the summer of 2009. American students will then travel to Armenia and Azerbaijan in the spring of 2010 to work with their DOTCOM peers to bring media action to a broader audience. Students will be selected based on their commitment to the program, grasp of media literacy and willingness to engage constructively in cross-cultural dialogue.

Students not selected for the physical exchange will remain in the program to continue their media work and civic activism through the online forums.

What will DOTCOM achieve?

• 90 participants from Armenia, America and Azerbaijan will work online to explore media literacy and the role that web-based social networking can play in changing stereotypes and perceptions.

• 30 participants from Armenia, America and Azerbaijan will travel on overseas exchanges to work with their DOTCOM peers to motivate change in their communities.

• Media produced during the program will be released via the Internet and through a network of global NGO’s and media organizations, using Web 2.0 tools such as personal blogs, mySpace, Flickr and Youtube to reach audiences worldwide.

• Community service projects with youth and community groups in the U.S. and abroad will provide an opportunity for students to engage in community service in a tangible, concrete way with their DOTCOM peers.

• A participant-run weblog and online community will provide an open exchange of news and images from participants’ communities and countries, allowing for dialogue and exchange among participants on current events and social issues.

The deadline for applications for children aged 15-16 is 1 December 2008 and more information can be found at http://dotcom.ph-int.org/. There is also a Facebook Group for the project here.

This post is part of our special coverage Caucasus Conflict Voices.

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