“The Digital Swaraj Fellowship (DSF) Orientation Workshop, held at The Heritage House, Mysore from 1st to 7th July 2023, was a transformative experience designed to prepare participants for their journey towards Digital Swaraj. The workshop was jointly organized by Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and Travellers’ University (TU), aiming to introduce fellows to the Digital Swaraj Fellowship, foster connections among them, and equip them with essential skills and knowledge to apply them on ground.
Following is a descriptive summary of the learning’s of the 7-day workshop:
Day 1: Set the tone for the orientation with a warm Welcome Dance and Talk, creating a sense of belonging in the circle. Participants were encouraged to set their intentions for the workshop and embrace a safe, non-judgmental space for active listening. The day involved self-introductions, where each participant shared their stories using prompts, fostering an atmosphere of openness and camaraderie. Agreements and duties were set to establish a collaborative and responsible environment.
Day 2: Commenced with a check-in, ensuring a smooth transition into the day’s activities. The “River of Life” activity encouraged participants to reflect on their life journeys through artistic expression. Guided visualizations and gallery walks enabled meaningful connections by allowing individuals to empathize with each other’s experiences. Group sharing sessions provided a deeper understanding of one another’s backgrounds and aspirations, enhancing fellowship dynamics.
Day 3: Began with a fun activity to energize participants, followed by a review of the previous day’s events. An interactive session delved into the roots and objectives of DEF, providing insights into its journey of digital empowerment, inclusion, and access. Participants engaged in a reflective exercise, exploring interconnections among societal issues. The introduction of the 4R Framework (Resist, Reform, Reimagine, and Recreate) facilitated comprehensive problem-solving approaches. Examples of digital interventions showcased DEF’s impact and achievements.
Day 4: Featured informative sessions on digital activism, visual storytelling, and the four thematic areas of the fellowship: 1. Digital and Information Technology Tools/Solutions for Development; 2. Research, Communication & Advocacy for Digital Rights & Development; 3. Digital Inclusion for Poverty Alleviation and Fighting Exclusion; and 4. Digital Models for Capacity Building of Institutions, Government, Businesses and Civil Society. A collaborative vision board activity encouraged participants to envision attributes of a “Digital Change Leader.” Rest and recuperation activities offered a breather from intense learning.
Day 5: Commenced with a fun activity and a check-in, encouraging active engagement and reflection. Discussions on the role of art, culture, and heritage in social justice highlighted the significance of local context in digital interventions. The fellows were briefed on fellowship structure, mentorship, and responsibilities, paving the way for a clearer understanding of their roles. After a day of engaging activities and insightful sessions, the participants of the Digital Swaraj Fellowship Orientation Workshop concluded the day with a fascinating heritage walk, providing them with a first-hand experience of Mysore’s rich cultural heritage.
Day 6: Commenced with a recreational activity followed by an introduction to Rural Immersion prepared participants for fieldwork and familiarized them with reporting details. Workplace safety policies and grassroots communication were imparted to ensure a safe and effective fellowship experience. A storytelling session empowered fellows to document their experiences, preserving the essence of their transformative journey.
Day 7: Began with a morning activity, fostering a positive and inclusive atmosphere. The closing check-in allowed participants to express their workshop experience, further strengthening their connections. A poignant moment was the letter-writing activity, as fellows penned heartfelt messages to their future selves, affirming their intentions for the fellowship. An appreciation activity brought forth gratitude and recognition for each other’s contributions.
In conclusion, the Digital Swaraj Fellowship Orientation Workshop successfully prepared participants for their Digital Swaraj journey. Through engaging activities, meaningful connections, and insightful discussions, the workshop provided a holistic understanding of the fellowship’s goals and the skills necessary to effect positive change in the digital realm. The fellows left Mysore equipped with newfound knowledge, a sense of purpose, and a strong support network to embark on their mission towards Digital Swaraj.”