Media Information and Literacy Event: The Gathering Place of Media Enthusiasts

By Grese Sermaxhaj

From 27th August-2nd September 2021, in the capital city of Serbia, Belgrade, Youth Time International Movement (YTIM) and Erasmus+ are hosting the Media Information & Literacy event in Serbia and Beyond, bringing together 50 participants for a six-day event of learning, discussing, and speaking with experts in media literacy.

Topics will range from misinformation and disinformation, to effective regulation, to spotting fake news and propaganda all taught through workshops, masterclasses, and keynote speeches.

As we are just a few days away from the event, Michael Berg, who gathered all NGOs together to make this far-reaching event happen speaks to Youth Time Contributor Gresë Sermaxhaj, and shares his excitement of meeting new people, and bringing together those who would not typically meet.

“Most of all, the excitement of seeing our mission of inspiring and motivating a global youth to gain tools and experiences to hopefully go onto make a positive difference to others in all aspects, be realised,” he says.

He acknowledges, there is always a lot of work to create an event such as this, so, during the day-to-day tasks and duties putting it together, it sometimes gets hard to see YTIM’s mission materialise.

“Still, we know once each event starts and then ends, we can see all our work and what we stand for and look to achieve, become a reality.”

“That gives us and myself great excitement,” Berg adds.

Finding the Spirit Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

This event especially holds an additional level of excitement, given the restrictions all of us have faced over the past 18 months.

“We were lucky enough to hold our annual summer school last year in Iceland while the pandemic, for a time, subsided before the next wave hit,” Bergs explains, taking us back to the amazing YTIM Summer School 2020 in Reykjavik.

It was a great success; however, many adjustments were required where only half of the participants could make it.

“This event [Belgrade’s] is supported by Erasmus+ and has been in the planning for more than a year suffering from many delays.

“We’ve been looking for ways to predict the ‘unknown’ with no certainty of how, and if, this event will take place. All plans at several stages had to completely change,” he emphasises.

“But we are now only days away with a full list of participants, where finally we can have a full capacity event where no participant has had to miss out.”

He does not want to tempt fate, but Berg cannot help but feel the extra level of excitement and big sense of relief that finally after all the constant struggles, changes, and barriers, people come together, learn, share experiences, and hopefully be inspired to make a positive difference. 

Creating a Learning Environment that Appreciates Diversity

After reading more information about the event, it seems this experience is not just limited to classrooms, as it includes an excursion, city walks, cultural events, and networking.

On this note, Berg shares his say on how it will help the youth accept differences and understand other cultures.

“All of our events carry a theme based on some of the most relevant and topical issues. This event is regarding media literacy, which I believe no one can really argue about its level of importance and how it has and is currently affecting our day-to-day lives. But our themes are not our only focus.”

Learning together is great, learning about something so relevant is even better, but gaining experience and understanding and accepting each other regardless of backgrounds is more important; he believes.

“Sitting in a classroom each day hearing new lessons and insights are good, but those environments do not allow you to learn about the person you’re sitting next to, understand their perspectives, and how they will use the information given.”

“We incorporate alternative learning methods beyond the traditional to invoke these types of discussions, and we include activities and experiences which allows all to interact, get to know each other, and share their views and experiences on a personal level beyond the themed focused lessons being taught.”

Many activities are specifically designed to be based around sharing cultures and backgrounds, learning about alternative perspectives and traditions, but doing it all together in a relaxed environment.  

YTIM cannot force anyone to interact and accept anything, and nor do they want to.

“However, we aim to create environments that are comfortable enough to hopefully allow others to gain more understanding, accept differences, and embrace diversity.”

Worth mentioning that all of YTIM’s events have resulted in a variety of new friendships and relationships on a personal and professional level.

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About YTIM

YTIM is a non-profit and non-political organisation, created in Prague, Czech Republic in 2010 by three passionate young people from Czech Republic, Croatia and Russia with the urgent need of creating an initiative for a better future across different spheres.

YTIM believes the need for social change is urgent worldwide and that this is precisely the younger generation who can take the most active role in shaping our global community towards achieving a brighter future for all.