What’s in your mobile phone – Banana Phone workshop

28 March 2014 | ResolutionPossible

For the past six months we have been developing our Youth Engagement Programme. Working with young people, we explore the connections between our everyday lives and global issues,  learning from the participants what matters to them and what their priorities are. In December 2013 we ran a workshop with the year 10 students at Elizabeth Garret Anderson School, allowing us to adapt the workshop and in January we started running an improved version of the workshop with the students at IntoUniversity.

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IntoUniverstity is a charity  providing academic support, career advice, further education choices and exposure to numerous professional fields to help young people make a plan for their future education and careers. IntoUniversity invited Resolution:Possible to deliver our workshop during their after school academic support club, to give the students the opportunity to think about the impact of their choices on global society.

Why are we working with young people?

Collaboration with young people allows us to find out what issues are important to them and how they see themselves positioned in the wider context of global affairs. Throughout the sessions, the IntoUniversity students came up with a great range of issues that they are concerned with, from the long journey to school, having way too much homework, peer pressure and not enough sleep, to the war in Syria, poverty or “bad stuff happening in developing countries”. Some focussed on their immediate surroundings, others thought more about global issues, but everyone agreed that a fundamental worry is the future. What will the future hold for them? Will they know what to do when they finish school? Will they be able to find jobs? What will the world look like by the time they are ready to start working?

What have we learned so far?

Through the ‘Banana Phone’ workshop, we explored the way we are all connected to events around the world. The workshop focusses on one connection in particular: our mobile phones. Using the mobile phone – a product we agreed everyone in the group uses on a daily basis – as a case study, we examined what it means exactly when we say “we are all connected to global issues”.

IntoUniversity - Young people's worries

Participants of the workshop wrote down things are on their mind, such as too much homework, peer pressure, the global economy and terrorism. One thing they all had in common: they were all worried about their futures.

Intouniversity - Photo language for mobile phone production chain

Using images to come up with ideas for a fairer chain of production for mobile phones as part of the Banana Phone workshop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of the participants agreed that the chain of production of a mobile phone is shocking and unfair. From the miners in DR Congo digging up the required metals,  to the workers in the smelting factories in Asia, to those sitting at the conveyer belt assembling electronic components in China; many people involved in making a mobile phone are paid too little and working in unsafe conditions. The participants agreed that in spite of this, consumers don’t care enough to stop buying mobile phones. They also felt that expecting people in this day and age to do away with their laptops, mobile phones or televisions is unrealistic; we rely on electronics too much.

The general consensus in the group was that people don’t care, because these problems do not concern them and they have nothing to do with them. While we explored the direct connections between ‘us’ (consumers) and ‘them’ (the people working throughout the chain of production) and gained a better understanding on how our everyday lives impact others all over the world, this still seems too far removed for people to genuinely make changes to their lives. Many suggested that even if people do care, it is too complicated and ambiguous to do anything about it.

Two main questions emerged throughout the workshop: how do we make people care? And how do we provide tangible actions that people can take to start the process of positive change?

What’s next?

These are two huge questions that are not easy to turn into ‘quick fix’ solutions. This is a process that is going to take a long time, and will require first and foremost the opportunity for conversations like the ones that took place at the IntoUniversity sessions to take place.

We are hoping to publish the thoughts of the young people who participated in the workshop on these challenges. From there we think more conversations like these can start online as well as offline.

We are excited about the thought-provoking questions that were raised by the students at IntoUniversity and we look forward to many more collaborations like this.

Interested in hosting a Resolution:Possible workshop? Get in touch to find out more.

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