Youth Start Digital Conversations about Heritage

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© UNESCO
10 November 2015

Social media can be a powerful tool to engage youth around the world. The young members of NET-MED Youth working within the media group in Palestine could not agree more. They took action by publishing photos and stories online to tell everyone around the world about the importance of heritage to all generations.

"I took a photo of the Church of Saint Porphyrius. It is the oldest active church in the city of Gaza, and it dates back to 425 CE," says, Motaz Alaaraj, a young member of the NET-MED Youth media working group. “I wrote about the importance of this Church, then posted the story and the photo on Facebook and Instagram using #unite4heritage.”

Being an avid photographer, Motaz, could not miss a chance to showcase to other youth overseas the precious heritage sites his city is home to.

"My friend Abla saw it on Facebook and was very thankful to have learnt a few things about the Church,” he continues. “She is from the West Bank and now lives in Ottawa. She expressed her admiration of the time-honored history of the Church."

During an intensive one-hour session blogging and engaging in social media, a group of 10 young Palestinian journalists, bloggers and media activists from different media-oriented youth organizations showed their support for UNESCO’s #Unite4Heritage campaign.

The social media activity came as one of the highlights of the Week of Heritage in Palestine. The one-hour session was organized as part of the #Unite4Heritage campaign by NET-MED Youth, on 4 November 2015. The activity aimed at encouraging youth to talk about the value of their cultural heritage, their identities and their sense of belonging in order to spread messages of unity, tolerance and solidarity.

All the participants published their own photos of heritage sites on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In their posts they told the world of seven important heritage sites in Palestine: Al Alami Arcade (restored by UNESCO), the Big Omari Mosque, the Church of Saint Porphyrius, Al-Basha Museum, Saint Hilarion Monastery, Hamam al-Sammara and Sebastia city.

Motaz, in his posts, calls on all youth to share photos and information about their heritage in order to build knowledge about the world’s diverse tangible and intangible heritage.

"#Unite4Heritage encourages young people to use social media to reframe their understanding of heritage and their experience with it,” says Reema Salem, NET-MED youth project coordinator and the focal point of the #Unite4Heritage campaign in Gaza. “It also builds a digital context around the conversations about the value of heritage.”

UNESCO’s #Unite4Heritage campaign was launched in March 2015 with the aim to mobilize global support, especially amongst young people, for the protection of cultural heritage, and in response to the unprecedented attacks on the MENA region’s cultural diversity and heritage.

To learn more about the campaign worldwide, visit: www.unite4heritage.org

The Networks of Mediterranean Youth (NET-MED Youth) project is implemented by UNESCO and funded by the European Union. It aims at mainstreaming youth issues and priorities across national decision-making and policy implementation in eastern and western Mediterranean countries by building the capacities of youth and youth organizations and promoting their active engagement in the development and implementation of national policies and strategies on youth, ensuring that youth issues are adequately covered by national and regional media and by identifying workable models for improving youth access to employment and youth inclusion in different sectors.

To learn more about Networks of Mediterranean Youth (NET-MED Youth), visit: en.unesco.org/netmedyouth and follow us on www.facebook.com/netmedyouth

For further information on UNESCO’s activities in Palestine please contact Ms. Majd Beltaji, Public Information Officer of the UNESCO Office in Ramallah at m.beltaji@unesco.org