The media camp in Turkey in September 2013 brought together young journalists from conflict affected regions. For many of them the course was the turning point to change their perceptions about each other.
“From childhood, I thought that Georgians were rude and arrogant. But after meeting Georgian youth, this appears to be untrue,“ says a 19-year old TV reporter from Tskhinvali.
The authors of the media camp – experts from the Georgian media organization Internews, believe that only face-to-face contacts and joint activities can smooth the awkwardness and tension between the communities divided by conflicts.
During a 9-day training course, youngsters familiarized with the practical and theoretical sides of journalism. They learnt about film making, editing and documentary. Theoretical seminars were followed by more interactive activities: young people were split into groups of three with one Georgian, one Ossetian and one Abkhaz in each, and were assigned to make short films.
“First days were not smooth. Young people locked themselves in their ethnic groups and rarely communicated with their peers. But after a while, youngsters became more open with each other. They worked together, brainstormed for hours, and in no time started bonding,“ says one of the course coordinators.
Separated by prejudice and lack of information, the young people never thought that a media camp could bring a bunch of new friends in their life. As one of them said:
“We have same interests and problems, we like same films and music, we read same books. Now we keep in touch on Facebook, share news and plans. Media camp showed us that shared professional interests often lead to friendship, a friendship which builds confidence and overcomes conflicts.”