Somali Youth Take To Blog Writing
In recent years, Somalia’s digital space has been widening. Hundreds of thousands of youth have been getting online for multiple purposes, but mostly to connect with the globe and to empower and educate themselves. This influx has partly been aided by Somalia’s cheap and high-speed internet. Therefore, the Somali Public Agenda Center for Learning and Development saw the need to acquaint these youth to better utilize the digital tools they already have to increase their employability, get connected with the rest of the world, and become a voice for their communities. This led to the idea for blog writing training. Blog writing is a useful skill that can propel a person into many career opportunities. It allows someone to share his/her perspective on something, shed light on topics that are out of the spotlight of the media, protect their privacy, and satisfy their writing interests. These needs, along with many others, necessitated the SPA Center for Learning and Development to fill a skills gap. In the quest to equip Somali youth with in-demand skills, a curriculum and syllabus of the training were carefully crafted before the course was advertised. The SPA Center for Learning and Development team spent several weeks developing the training materials. A month-long blog writing training was advertised on 27th May 2021 through our social media accounts. Applicants were required to have a minimum of a graduate or an undergraduate degree preferably in social science or a related field. Last year undergraduate students and those with post-secondary diplomas were also eligible to apply. Other requirements included writing a statement of purpose, having good oral and written communication skills and a passion to develop research and analysis skills. More than 100 applicants applied for the training in the first five days. The selection process was rigorous; it was tough to shortlist only 20 applicants out of the 100. However, after an arduous screening, the selection panel eventually selected 15 applicants: 7 female and 8 male. Overall, the training was interactive. The trainees were immersed in rigorous practical work. In the first week, they had to create a blog site from either Blogger.com or WordPress.com and customize it to their preferences. By the end of each week, trainees were required to write and publish a blog post after the training instructors reviewed and gave feedback on their work. Their syllabus modules also included different types of blog posts, how to choose a topic and a captivating title, how to research and reference blogs, harnessing social media to promote blog posts, and personal branding. Throughout the training period, the participants were collaborative and enthusiastic. They did their assignments on time. Most of the trainees were able to write and share interesting stories about themselves, other inspiring figures, or pertinent social issues. In four weeks, the trainees wrote and shared 43 blog posts. We were amazed by the quality of the writing and the inspiring stories that the trainees were able to share during the training period. Moreover, as part of the course design, we invited renowned bloggers and social influencers to share their insights and experiences with the trainees. During the four weeks of the training, four renowned bloggers mentored the trainees, shared their blogging journeys, and gave invaluable advice. This step was aimed at boosting their morale, and help them connect with real mentors who can offer practical advice and encouragement. After four weeks, the SPA Center for Learning and Development concluded the training on 24th July 2021. In the end, the applicants were full of praise and gratitude to the center and the instructors, Mahad Wasuge and Sadik Anod. They requested the center to follow up on the progress of the trainees and share with them any fellowships and blog writing competitions in the future. This was the first blog writing training offered by the SPA Center for Learning and Development. The overall feedback has been very positive. We are pleased with the impact that we were able to have on young and inspiring Somali youth in a short period. Giving aspiring writers an opportunity to tap their potential, change the narrative about their country, and write about pressing social and political issues is a mission that we all enjoy being a part of. It is an objective that the SPA Center for Learning and Development takes pride in, and we have future plans to continue to provide similar training once every quarter.