While the focus of the organization where I am employed (ABC Bildungs- und Tagungszentrum is civic education within Germany, I am fortunately able to create opportunities to broaden my work field to international projects. After a workshop on online journalism and blogging, I held in Minsk (Belarus) last year, now I got the chance to take part in the development of a youth exchange program between Hamburg, Tunis and Marseille with a focus on citizen journalism.

A long site with our partners Une Terre Culturelle and Club Unesco Alesco Bardo we just gathered for a preparation meeting in Tunis, where the first of three project phases will be launched in October. It has been my first time to Tunis and besides a brief tourist visit of Sinai my very first time in Northern Africa. Of course this three-night-visit has just been a glimpse but nevertheless really inspiring.

Social media as a powerful tool and a vivid source of communication

In 2011, just after the first peak of the uprisings within the arabic countries I wrote a small piece about the chances of Web 2.0 in the field of civic youth education, where I discussed the well known fact that Facebook, Twitter and other online tools had a great role for the protest movement but haven’t been the reason or the only relevant catalyst for political transformations in that region. Within my small filter bubble of educators and scholars in the field of civic and media education that issue and the power of social media gained massive attention. The use of social media within the protests in Tunisia, Egypt and neighboring regions (as well as in Iran) often served as a role model. Also the i.e. the occupy-movement and students protests in Europe got a lot of drive from the Arab spring and it’s media uses.

It’s quiet pointless to measure perceived usage of communication technology and social media uses, but my first impression was that it got a much deeper meaning for the people in Tunis compared to major cities in Germany. For example there have always been more nearby Tweets around, when I wandered through Tunis than in Hamburg and more apprehended foursquare check-ins. Two of our hosts preached Foursquares role for his and hers personal use during the revolution, where it was used to let friends and family now their last location in case of a tense situation or police detection. And since it served so well, it got used furthermore.

I am looking forward to the results of our youth exchange regarding those issues. Some other random, but also very interesting impressions on this come from the citizenreporter.org’s podcast.

Practical tip: Card swapping instead of roaming

The second thing to do once in Tunisia: walk barefoot on the beach. The 1st thing to do: connect to the Tunsiana Network

I felt quiet targeted by the very first advertisement I saw at the Tunis-Carthage Airport (even though I chose Orange.tn for my prepaid card, since I got an – uncharged – SIM-Card as a promotion just a minute after at the baggage carousel. And 350MB for a week for 5 Dinar (approximately 2,60€) had been much nicer than paying 25€ for a 10MB roaming day pass from T-Mobile.