The Richardson Center organized several workshops on how to use social media for political messaging in Myanmar. The two trainers, Sophie Schmidt and Mindy Walker, worked with the participants to understand the importance of messaging as an elected official or party member and how to spread that message using social media tools—particularly relevant in Myanmar today, as politicians and the rest of the population are just becoming connected as the country opens up.
On June 28, 2013, the Richardson Center Presented at The Innovative, a local Myanmar NGO. The participants came from every region in Myanmar and from a wide array of political parties. The 35 students are currently attending a 10-week full time course for political activists. Many of the students do not currently use the technologies discussed mainly because they are from remote districts but it opened their world to other forms of communication and the idea of sticking to a message.
On the first day, participants were divided into groups, given a mock constituency and Mindy worked with the groups to craft messages. They discussed the benefits of social media and how it is used to engage constituents and serve as a platform for discussion in politics. On the second day, Sophie described the state of Internet connectivity in Myanmar and went through each tool (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogger) to show exactly how they can be used for political communications, with an eye towards the country’s challenges of limited penetration and low bandwidth.
IT Trainings for NGOs
Over the course of two days, Sophie conducted three IT trainings at a local NGO called Theik Khar Myanmar (Dignity Myanmar). The first training was called Being Safe Online, the second was Building Your Social Media Presence and the third was Search Smarter. The target audience was youth who work at NGOs or are active in their communities. At the end of the IT training series, the participants left the classroom with a better understanding of how Internet technology works, how to improve their online security and research skills, and how to use the nascent social media tools available in Myanmar to drive traffic and build influence online.