Emails have begun to fly this week between 31 Global Voices mentors and 31 participants in a newly launched educational program in Copenhagen, Denmark called Global Change.
The course is organized by the development agency MS Action Aid Denmark (more info in Danish) and will bring together university students and professionals from Denmark, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia to build their skills in online and offline activism over three months.
Global Voices bloggers will act as virtual mentors to the students in the first six weeks of the course where they will be learning about blogging, citizen media, and online activism.
Organizing for climate justice
The final challenge for the students at the end of the course will be to develop a project related to “climate justice“.
After the first six weeks in Copenhagen, participants will conduct fieldwork in Denmark and Kenya (incidentally coinciding with the African bloggers meeting, Kelele) before returning to Copenhagen once more in time for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in December.
Through personal online communication, the mentors will introduce their mentees to the wonders of blogging, and help inspire them to see possibilities for creative use of citizen media for activism. Many will also be volunteering advice about micro-blogging and other technologies.
Mentoring from South to North
The 31 Global Voices mentors come from more than 20 different countries, including Venezuela, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Cambodia, Brazil, and Bangladesh. Two-thirds of the students will be from Denmark and the rest from Africa.
Alongside their involvement with Global Voices, several mentors are well-known bloggers in their own countries, and all have either extensive experience or knowledge of online organizing efforts in their own regions. We expect that pairings between – for instance – a blogger in India with a blogger from Denmark; or a blogger in Azerbaijan with a blogger from Uganda; will lead to new friendships and greater understanding of how global community can be fostered via the internet.
Developing a new model for blogger mentoring
The Global Voices mentors are developing the new mentoring program themselves through IRC chat room meetings, a shared wiki for “lesson” ideas, a Google group email list, and a Facebook group.
Mentors intend to create enough documentation that the experience could easily be repeated by Global Voices or by others in the future. In their own blogs and tweets about the project, they will be using the tag: #gvmentors and we will be sharing developments and conclusions on Global Voices too. Later on, there will also be a student website at: globalchangenow.net
If you know of similar mentoring initiatives we should look at, we'd love to hear about them in the comments.
For Global Voices, this project is a welcome source of alternative revenue. Individual mentors (who usually contribute to Global Voices on an entirely volunteer basis) will be offered modest stipends for their work as mentors, but their collective effort is also generating revenue to support the Global Voices community as a whole.