4th World Summit on Media for Children and Adolescents
19th to 23rd April 2004, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Report by YA Sarah Chen 

Day 1 and Day 2 

As we lifted off home grounds, I took a last glance through the tiny window beside me. It was a typical Malaysian day; the sun high up amongst the blue skies, its scorching rays upon the wide fields of civilization. Yet, deep down, I knew, the day was destined to be much different, with many bigger plans ahead. After a 23-hour flight (including two transits at the Singapore Changi Airport and Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport), we finally arrived at our destination - RIO DE JANEIRO. 

I was regaled with so many stories about the famous city, that I couldn’t help but feel a certain rush of excitement, what more with the mission that we had brought along with us. Without haste, we grabbed our bags and took a taxi to our assigned hotel – the Bandeirantes. 

As we stepped out of the taxi and walked towards the hotel, I gently whiffed in the sweet Brazilian air, an uneventful attempt to pacify my restlessness. The hotel was a brightly lit spot, in the middle of a street of shop lots. My three other comrades and chaperone, who had arrived the day earlier were waiting for us at the threshold of the hotel, and I was eager to hear the many stories that they had. 

Jennifer and I checked-in and settled down in our hotel room - our newfound home for the next few days or so. We refreshed ourselves and were just in time for dinner. We walked to the nearest restaurant with the others; and gratefully indulged in the food. 

The dusty streets were almost empty at that time of the night, except for a few cacophonic gatherings at every next curb: loud music blaring from the cars, along with boorish voices. To the contrast of the party spirit, vagrants lay on the streets. Poverty was rife there. The city was teemed with beggars, which had settled down on sidewalks and alleyways. Slums line the streets, some standing smack in between modern concrete buildings. Women hang the few clothes the family owns on the railings by the roads. 

We returned to the hotel, stomachs full. It was already 1 am, and soon, the two of us collapsed unwillingly on our beds, with thoughts of the next day in our minds. 

Day 3 

4.30 am the following day, I woke up, still unable to adjust to the time difference, unlike my partner who was clearly enjoying her rest across me. Occupying myself for the next few hours, before long, it was time to head down to the hotel café for breakfast. We saw many new faces, all participants of the event and were introduced to few by Amanda, Marisha and Khairul. 

Later, we headed to the often talked about Copacabana Beach, where some of us swam, while others strolled along the shores. The sun was out right, shining on the fine white sands of the beach and its waves gently splashing against the shore. After a while, we rushed back to the hotel to get ready for the event, and boarded the bus, along with around 50 other participants and chaperones to the Naval Academy, at Villegagnon Island.  

 

THE 4TH WORLD SUMMIT ON MEDIA FOR CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS 

Themed “Media For All, Media From All”, the summit had gathered 2000 adults and 150 youth to discuss issues related to media and children, and to come up with solutions to be put on the Multimedia Charter, through the programmes structured for the next five days - Monday 19/4 till Friday 23/4. 

These solutions will be implemented in Brazil, through the involvement of the major media companies, and hopefully, its effect multiplied as the future leaders from the other 100 nations return to their communities and share what they have learned with others. Organized by the Municipal Multimedia Company of Brazil, elected by the World Summit on Media Fit for Children Foundation based on the level of experience with the foundation and other criteria, MULTIRIO was the Summit’s main organizer. 

There were parallel and plenary sessions (adults forum), which featured renowned speakers from all over the globe, presenting about the many media issues, according to the different themes for each day, occurring in their countries, and suggesting to the audience, the ways that they were implemented. 

Simultaneously, the Young Adolescents Forum featured a series of workshops where the youth were expected to come up with productions within their assigned workshops, as exemplary proposals to the adults on media fit for children. 

We arrived at the Naval Academy around 9 am, where we immediately registered ourselves, along with the other 150 participants. The Naval Academy was humongous, and it was amazing how the organizers had utilized each facility for the Summit, a good choice of location indeed. 

With mixed feelings and expectations, we then headed towards the Young Adolescents Forum, which looked like the typical temporary exhibition centre, with plastic walls and carpeted platforms. Already, the place was crowded with new faces, from different countries, diverse races and ethnicities. As the five of us, Khairul, Amanda, Jennifer, Marisha and I wandered around the Forum area; a sudden burst of music was heard. In the centre of the lounge, a group of youth had formed a circle and started dancing to the beat. More and more people approached the circle out of curiosity, and soon enough, every participant held hands and joined in the dance, without a single thought. 

The dance lasted for almost half an hour, everyone dancing vigorously and laughing around the lounge, creating a huge surge of energy around the room. Then, we simmered down into the YAF auditorium; where we had an informal opening ceremony by the organizers, lead by Miss Ana Cecilia Pacheco. 

The dance had served as the first icebreaker, and after a few welcoming speeches and briefings on the agenda for the next four days, we had another warm up activity, where everyone got to know each other. Although the language barrier, (the main language in Brazil is Portuguese - and majority of the participants were Brazilians who could not communicate in English) everyone tried their best to convey the message across, struggling with the little knowledge of phrases, some even use sign language, we successfully formed special bonds with the other participants within a matter of minutes. It was a fantastic experience, how everybody was so open to receive from the other party, regardless of backgrounds, skin colour, whatsoever. 

Then, the workshops began. I was in the Script Workshop, along with 19 other participants from places like Palestine, China, Brazil, Nigeria, Albania and Thailand. We did not have an adult moderator for the day, but continued on with the agenda. We were to come up with logos for our workshop. My suggestion got chosen, and was then painted on our T-shirts. 

To wrap the day up, there was a show by a local performer, at the Main Auditorium. Antonio Nobrega performed a few numbers, and had a big crowd dancing along to his songs. Tired, we all returned to the hotel, keyed up for the next day. 

Day 4 

This time, we had to wake up earlier for breakfast, as the bus to the Naval Academy was to leave an hour earlier. Groggy-eyed, all of us shuffled into the bus, and headed for the official opening ceremony at the Main Auditorium. The ceremony featured a series of speeches by people from the Brazilian Ministry of Culture, the City Council, the Media Children Foundations and so on. 

After lunch and a few interviews, we headed towards our workshops, and continued from the day before. My moderator finally came, and we briefly discussed the idea of scriptwriting. Within the three hours that we had, he gave a lecture and showed videos on scriptwriting, with the aim of empowering the group to come up with any form of production, with the basis of script usage. 

The group discussed, and decided to divide ourselves into two, where one team will be working on a production with a free topic, and the other, on the Multimedia Charter. I selected the Multimedia Charter, where we would think of a way of presenting suggestions for the Charter through our production. 

Soon, our time was up, and we went home with assignments for the next day.                

The five of us reassembled at dinner, to discuss and report what was done in each other’s workshop. We agreed that many of our workshops were headed in the wrong direction, as too much focus was posed upon productions and techniques of the production, when in fact, all of us came with a purpose of discussing the media issues that related to us, and to contribute in coming up with solutions for the Charter, and possibly implementing those relevant in our home country. With that, we decided to bring up the issue with the YAF core committee, as many other participants shared the same view as well. Our stomachs full, we returned to Bandeirantes with a mission at hand. 

Day 5 

Yet another early morning. We reached the Naval Academy, and headed towards the YAF, not too surprised that the issue that had been discussed the night before, was now spreading around the whole Forum like wildfire. Many shared the same view, and as the organizers got to know of this, they quickly organized for a special debate session in the morning, just before the Plenary Session. 

While the many others debated and discussed in the YAF auditorium, a few of us, together with the core youth organizing committee for the YAF, quickly came up with suggestions for the Multimedia Charter, as samples of what, we from the YAF were capable of and actually, bringing the issue at hand to the adults session, to propose for representation at Parallel sessions in the Adults Forum and reformatting of the workshop - to discuss the media related issues and come up with solutions, which will be combined at the end of the day, instead of focusing on the productions. 

By lunch, the whole political situation simmered down, with thanks to the explanation by Ms Regina de Assis, chairperson of the Summit. Two representatives will be chosen to attend the Parallel Sessions, and discussions can be based on the issues brought up. 

Right away, the workshops started in that manner. We began the workshop with basic discussions on the media issues in our different countries. It was enlightening to find out that many faced the same problems, and shared the same views, despite the many differences. Then, we suggested circumstances, and ways we would overcome them. There was serious debate over the solutions, which were then jotted down for presentation in the Multimedia Charter the next day. 

Though the topics were getting more and more interesting and heated, I had to leave my workshop for the launch of the Malaysian Children Television Foundation. We had a room to ourselves, and at 3.30pm, invited Ms Regina de Assis to officiate our foundation. We briefed her about the foundation and its objectives, which she very much supported, and later we screened the video taken by YAC/GKC in our trip to Iraq after the gulf war. This was followed by the signing of posters, along with Natalia Sallies, one of the youth in the core organizing committee. We shake hands and handed over some gifts, as a token of appreciation. With the launch of the foundation, we knew we were getting closer to achieving our objectives. 

By the time we finished, the workshops for the day had ended as well. To end the hectic day right, we walked to the Copacabana beach, for a friendly game of handball. 

Day 6

I had a good rest the night before, and was fully charged for the day. As usual, we took the bus to the Naval Academy, but this time had the chance to attend the Plenary Session. The topic for the day was Challenges to Quality, Alliances for Quality. I sat in for a while, before heading towards my workshop at the YAF. 

My group had finished their discussions and was now preparing for the presentation at 11.30am at the YAF auditorium. While Natalia and I looked through the proposals one last time, and added on a few points, the room got chaotic - papers were everywhere, some were still debating over the points we were to put forth, and Mohammed and Guilherme was busy practicing in front of Bia and Fe. 

By 11.30am, everyone was seated in the YAF auditorium, anxious to hear the proposals from the 8 different groups. 10 reps were seated on the panel, and each began their proposals for the Charter. Some of which are: 

SUGGESTIONS TO BE PUT IN CHARTER (SCRIPT WORKSHOP)

  1. Each media station must have a Quality Control Committee that must include youth critique for every production.
  2. The creation of a international youth-to-youth broadcast by UNICEF where:

2.1 The satellite frequencies for broadcasting will be given for free

2.2 The programs showed should be productions made by youth all over the world

 

After lunch, we had an emergency meeting with Uncle Sabri and Aunty Wati, where we were told that we managed to get a whole session to ourselves during the closing ceremony the next day. Thrilled by the great news, we quickly got down to preparations. Apart from the screening of the Iraq video, all of us would be presenting about topics such as the link of the Rio Summit, ACTF and MCTF, introduction of MCTF, and the role children and media play. 

We continued with preparations as the workshops ended. 

Yet, there was something even more exciting that night - SAMBA!! Carlinhos de Jesus, another local performer had us all dancing to his samba beats. Participants of the forum, and even the chaperones were all fast on their feet, each haste-fully learning the samba steps from our Brazilian friends. I for one was brought upstage with the performer! We truly danced our shoes off that night. 

Though tired from all the dancing, we continued with our preparations over dinner, and even had a last run through in the hotel room. We went to bed, exhausted and anxious for what lay ahead us. 

Day 7 

It was a big day for the five of us. We were all dressed, and fully prepared for the day. As we reached the Naval Academy, and entered the Main Auditorium, I could feel my heart pounding, my stomach forming knots of anxiety. At 9.30am, we were called upon stage, the first presentation for the day. 

First, was Khairul’s speech in Portuguese, which obviously wowed the crowd. Followed by the screening of the Iraq video, which touched so many hearts, three quarters of the people in the auditorium had tears in their eyes. Then, the four of us spoke, about the topics we were given. Each and every one of us spoke firmly and confidently. Till today, I can still recapture the moment of pride and joy when the five of us stood there, booming with confidence, as the crowd gave us a standing ovation. I knew, we had succeeded in our first step, but had many more big leaps to take. 

The closing ceremony wrapped up with a few more speeches, performances and presentations. 

As the Summit came to an end, we all knew that we would soon leave the friends that we have made. All around, everyone was taking pictures together, signing each other’s shirts with little messages from the heart, exchanging gifts and contacts. The five of us were doing the same, refusing to let go of the newfound bonds created. 

Thankfully, we had a big group activity in the late evening, where we all toured the Sugar Loaf, another attraction in Rio, and took even more pictures! We had great fun walking around the hill, and gazing at the picturesque view from above.

Soon, the night came to an end. As we boarded the bus back to Bandeirantes, it was sad to think that it was going to be our last bus ride together, with many of our newfound friends. While we were only to leave on Sunday, many had to leave much earlier. We hugged and said our goodbyes, hoping they wouldn’t leave. 

Day 8 & 9 

The last two days were spent touring around, with two of our friends from Rio, who had willingly guided us through the wonderful city. From the best shopping malls to the most beautiful cathedrals, they guided us through. Though, it was not long before we had to pack our bags and say our goodbyes to them, and to Brazil. 

All in all, I had a tremendous experience. Despite patches of irrelevance at one point or another, speeches and administrative blunders in the Summit itself, I believe, at the end of the day, as the children of the World, we did come up with the Multimedia Charter together, as planned. As for us Malaysians, we came home with so much in our hands and our hearts. Perhaps to some, the most valuable activity happened on the sidelines: personal interaction and networking among the participants, but none of this would have happened without the Summit.  

We went there, gave our level best, and had not only created ripples, but also waves, and have impacted so many lives. Let’s all take this one step further, into making a real difference.