Dear lovely Edgeryders,
This post is a bit late (better than ever, right?!) but I’ve been busy with other events in Europe before heading back to Dubai, and when I managed to have some free time, I preferred to go out and photowalk instead of setting in my hotel room!
I’m sharing with you here some thoughts and reflections I’ve complied during my participation in lote and #Edgecamp. Being written by an Edgeryder from outside the EU, you might find these thoughts interesting, different, silly or whatever you call it!
Before heading to any event, I usually put a list of objectives I want to achieve through this event, but I knew that the lote & #Edgecamp will be different. However, I didn’t have a crystal clear picture on how “different” they will be although I’ve created the Arabic subtitle for the project intro video months ago and spent a good time on the platform learning about the project and interacting with other Edgeryders. So I decided to put a simple clear objective in my mind: Keep Discovering! (btw this iss the old motto of Emirates Airline!)
As a man passionate about citizen (specially youth) engagement in making the needed transition in societies mainly via making a shift in the way governments do their business, I had the following initial list of questions in my mind, and I was looking forward to discover the answers during the event:
- How will the rich online dialog and interaction across the community on the platform be moved to the offline gathering?
- To what extent are the EU institutions and politicians serious about having the youth at the heart of the the needed changes in institution setup and policy making mechanisms to survive the current crises and pursue the future those youth aspire?
- More specifically: How can the Edgeryders and the EU politicians and institutions have a fruitful dialog during the event? And can this dialog be orchestrated in a way that increases the chances of reaching the desired outcome?
- We live in a global connected world, so what can I learn from the youth in Europe? What do I have to offer them? Do we share the same dreams and challenges? Can we adopt similar approaches and solutions ?
Days after the event, I can’t say that I have founded clear answers to all these questions, but I storngly believe that my observations and interactions during lote and #Edgecamp have put me on he right track.
The first positive and important signal I received was having lote organized inside the premises of Council of Europe. I know this was announced prior to the event but living the moment was different, the moment when the Edgeryders “occupied” the ground floor (or was it the 2nd floor?!) on the first day and then listened to Emilie Turunen, member of the European Parliament who from Denmark delivering very honest and to the point opening remarks. I quote her: “It 's never been as worst when it comes to unemployment as it is now, and I think we need an extraordinary effort from this generation to really change the whole direction of Europe”
I’m not deeply aware of the setup of the Council of Europe or EU institutions and their policy making mechanisms but I saw this as a very positive way to commence the event. This point was further emphasized on during the lote & #Edgecamp through the balance between youth and politicians participation (e.g. in the panels). However, the most important part is yet to come, that’s to see how this dialogue will continue to deliver specific policy outcomes that meet or come very close to the dreams of Edgeryders.
Then I discovered that my first question was wrong! Just wrong! Instead of “moving” the online discussion to the offline event, make them in sync and mashed up. Remember the tweetwall? yes that’s it! It hasn’t only enriched the discussion but also helped in connecting the offline gathering with remote Edgeryders who couldn’t make it to event and also timely documenting the discussed issues so we can continue talking about it post the event.
Talking about dialog, another positive important observation was the diversity of the Edgeryders! It was just amazing, the diversity in backgrounds, experiences, specializations, interests, views … and languages! My favorite two ways to describe this are the following: first the instant translation in the conference room and how important it was! Remember when Nadia used to interrupt a participant when she/he forgets to turn on the mice and say something like: the mic please, translators can’t hear you?! that was an “aha moment” for me! I knew that there are so many languages other than English in Europe (the EU homepage has 23 languages), and I was expecting and looking forward to a multi-lingual gathering but again it’s different when you live it specially that I came from a part of the world where English is considered the common language for communicating and doing business. I even took this picture from inside the European Parliament in Brussels where they ahve 13 cabinets for the translators. I loved that!
The other way to describe it is the diversity of the topics posted on the wall during the #Edgecamp: video games, aliens, open data, fashion, voting systems and the list goes on! and documented it in photo of course.
During the second day of lote, I was enchanted by the process adopted in the We The People session to identify the challenges and then working in smaller groups to brainstorm, discuss and come out with specific policy recommendations in a limited time span.
One of my favorite moments during lote and #Edgecamp was the one-to-one conversations I had with most of you Edgeryders, I enjoyed listening to the story being told from a different angle every time. I found out that we share the same dreams, motivations and values to a great extent, but more important the determination to pursue these dreams. Also, the context most of the Edgeryders live (i.e. EU) has many common features with the context I live in here (i.e Arab region) specially when it comes to the energy and the potential of the young generations. But also, I’ve noticed clear contextual differences. The key one to me is your ability to FREELY think and pursue your dreams, I’m talking here about much much fewer sociopolitical constrains and limitations you have in Europe as compared to the Arab region. I had an interesting discussion about this point with other Edgeryders during the Social Media and Arab Spring discussion at the #EdgeCamp.
So let’s leverage the common dreams and values we have to exchange the rich various experiences we gained through these different conditions. We live in a very connected world, and we have a lot to exchange and learn from each other.
I would like to sincerly thank Alerto, Nadia and Council of Europe for this opportunity. Thank you Lyne Robichaud for introducing me to this great community!
And big thank, Merci and Shokran to each one on of you Edgeryders for this great eye-opening experience, hope to join you again in similar gathering in the future.
I arrived at lote with the old Emirate’s motto: Keep Discovering…
But now, let’s continue Living on The Edge with the new Emirat’s’ motto in mind: Hello Tomorrow!