TechCamp Hyderabad Inspires Solutions to Counter Hate in South and Southeast Asia

“...We are building a global partnership against violent extremism. Success requires showing the world the power of peaceful communities instead of extremist violence. Success requires offering a vision that is positive and proactive: a world with more concrete alternatives to the nihilistic worldview of violent extremists.”

Secretary Kerry, “Our Plan for Countering Violent Extremism” The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 18, 2015

Building Bridges

Last month, the U.S Consulate General in Hyderabad, and the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) partnered with the Confederation of Voluntary Associations to host a TechCamp in Hyderabad, India. Throughout the three day technology workshop civil society leaders, journalists, social media experts, technologists, and religious leaders convened to build out long-term projects centered on promoting positive alternative narratives and tech strategies to combat violent extremism.

Participants from India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Maldives, Philippines, Singapore, and Sri Lanka, were nominated and selected by the U.S. embassies in their respective countries. Each worked with specialized trainers, recruited by IIP, from organizations like Google, the Wilson Center, 270 Strategies, the BBC, and the NoHateSpeech Movement. Together, they tackled topics such as building successful online/offline campaigns, digital storytelling, data visualization, and using online course-learning tools to promote peace and understanding in their work and local communities.

Developing Projects

As the TechCamp progressed, participants identified, described, and confronted key challenges to build solutions and strategies for countering radicalization in the digital age. One notable project from TechCamp Hyderabad is the CheckMateHate campaign. Participants from Bangladesh, India, Philippines, and Sri Lanka worked together with trainers Ayeshea Perera of BBC and Linda Roth from The Wilson Center to launch a campaign countering online hate and misinformation while featuring inspiring stories of individuals espousing values of coexistence and multiculturalism.

The #CheckMateHate campaign aims to debunk fake news and empower and share stories of coexistence. [#CheckMateHate photo] 

Other key projects and ideas that materialized at the TechCamp were strategies to empower women in the fight against radicalization through direct messaging and podcasts; community building via e-learning tools (with a special focus on K-12 education in rural India); and the creation of a platform to empower and engage university dropouts with positive messaging and educational resources. Newaz Hossain, a participant from Bangladesh working on that education platform, noted “I always wanted to launch my ideas to tackle negative issues,” and shared that he was “glad to receive the necessary tools to make the idea turn into reality.” 

Participants from Singapore and India check out a new app they just discovered at TechCamp. [State Department photo]

Looking Forward to the Future

Participants left TechCamp Hyderabad with new digital skills, as well as a network of partners across South and Southeast Asia -- but the work does not stop there. TechCamp Hyderabad, like every IIP-led TechCamp, includes a multifaceted follow-on effort to help expand this existing network of positive change makers with an emphasis on cross-regional interaction. Over the coming weeks, the State Department, in partnership with the Confederation of Voluntary Associations, will offer program alumni additional funding and training opportunities to help them expand the digital campaigns, apps, and initiatives generated through TechCamp Hyderabad. This continuing partnership will also support TechCamp alumni’s ambitions to carry out their own local TechCamps, to connect even more innovative ideas and positive narratives, like those they experienced in Hyderabad, to their communities. Efforts like TechCamp are critical to connecting the next generation to the training and technological tools they need to catalyze a truly holistic effort to solve today’s complex global challenges.

About the Author: Sam Gordon serves on the TechCamps Team in the Bureau of International Information Programs at the U.S. Department of State.

For more information:

  • Follow the global TechCamp movement on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Check out the TechCamp Global Medium Blog for more stories about how the Department is using this platform to connect the next generation to the resources they need to force innovative solutions to global challenges.
After a productive two and a half days of brainstorming, networking, and solving challenges the TechCamp Hyderabad group poses for a picture. [State Department photo]
Posted by Sam Gordon
December 27, 2016

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