Youth in Lebanon have realized that to get their message across, they have to approach their target audience in creative and unconventional ways. Building on knowledge gained from civic education, communication, and governance training, youth are using their talents in a constructive and creative way to raise awareness on critical issues.
On a Sunday afternoon in March — peak shopping time at City Mall — and under the theme, “Where is my right?” more than 30 Lebanese youth activists came together to sing, dance, and spread the word about important issues that they regularly face.
To kick off the event, a CitiAct youth volunteer stood at the railing on an upper level of the mall and began to sing. The lyrics described nostalgia for the pre-war era when the Lebanese lived in unity and harmony. As her song concluded, a youth on the main escalator began to rap. The lyrics, which he wrote, included messages about citizenship and social and economic issues:
As a citizen, I should know my responsibilities; I should be effective towards my country and municipality. As an individual, my responsibilities are my duties; I should abide by the law. As a citizen, I have the right to ask for education without having to pull strings; I have the right to be treated as a student. Regarding the cost of living, I feel that human life is becoming cheap. The VAT (value-added tax) is still increasing, and I still can’t find a job.
Another group started a folk dance performance on the main floor. They were quickly joined by passers-by, who praised their initiative. The young people wore t-shirts with slogans addressed to the government that highlighted issues such as electricity cuts, food safety, unemployment, corruption, insecurity, sectarianism, and other social problems. By the end of the flash mob, more than 20 people had joined hands to dance with the original participants. The group filmed the event and shared it via Facebook and YouTube, spreading their message to a larger audience online.
Before the flash mob took place, CitiAct had engaged the young participants in citizenship, leadership, and communications training, and other activism activities. The youth are working together through CitiAct to achieve positive change, despite coming from historically rival neighborhoods where civic engagement and youth activism are rare.