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By Lucy Napitalai

Port Moresby, PNG, 26 February 2024 -- The Media Education Seminar program commenced on Saturday, 24 February 2024, after a break from the previous year. Seventeen animators and teachers from catholic institutions participated in the training session that opened avenues for the different groups' learning, interaction, and animation.

The first session, from 9 am to 1 pm, was attended by teacher animators from nine Catholic schools and the Mary Help of Christians Parish of Sabama in Port Moresby, with more than half of the participants being new animators.

The program began with an opening prayer led by volunteer Miss Fidelmah Urakupa, followed by a warm-up session facilitated by Social Communication representative Miss Ahisha Mangote. Fr. Ambrose Pereira, SDB, Social Communications coordinator for the EAO Region, then introduced the sessions, defining media and its main objectives, which include informing, educating, entertaining, and inspiring, as recognized by the Catholic Church. He stressed the purpose of church media is to bring about change and transformation, especially in the behavior and attitude of students and the community. "All that you publish, produce or post, be it in words, images, audio or video clips, should be positive and inspiring and bring about a transformation and change in society," he said.

The subsequent sessions included a brief introduction to Artificial Intelligence (AI) by Fr. Ambrose, who emphasized the need for us to recognize how AI is challenging our beliefs and value systems. Participants were helped to understand the dangers of personal data being used online as we scan through the internet.

Three sessions were conducted by volunteer facilitators. Miss Patrina Kaboanga presented the role of an animator, emphasizing that animators should guide the group, increase participation, and enhance understanding among the participants under their care. "As animators, we have to be seen as a friend to build trust with the participants," stated Miss Patrina.

Miss Lucy Napitalai emphasized expectations on the participants in the upcoming media education seminar series, highlighting the need for discipline and commitment in completing the program and active participation in engaging with media to positively influence others.

The final session, led by Mrs. Sheryll Isoaimo, focused on the way forward in media education. Ms. Sheryll highlighted that the aim of these media education seminar programs is to form students or pupils who are media literate, creative producers of media, and critical consumers of media content. She concluded her session by urging the animators to commit to promoting media literacy for the benefit of the students in their respective settings.

At the end of one of the sessions, Fr. Joseph Amith, CM, Director for Radio Maria, spoke about the missionary aspect of the media and the need to evangelize people. "Your help and collaboration will change the lives of those around us through the use of the media," stated Fr. Amith as he invited the institutions to share their faith on Radio Maria.

Participant comments at the evaluation included one-word responses such as "interaction, informative, educational, empowered, encouraged, commitment, discovering, networking, motivated, and valuable." Tess Wambon from Mary Help of Christians, Sabama, expressed her joy at being at the session. "It was a very valuable session with a lot of take-home messages to inspire the participants," she said. Another participant, Sr. Janet Moite from Limana Vocational Centre, shared, "I am not a media person, but coming to the session has been a great opportunity for me to share what I learn with the students and sisters at the convent as well. It is a learning experience for me."

Fr. Ambrose thanked the participants, the institutions, and the media outlets for their eagerness to be part of the Media Education programs for the year. “The more we network and collaborate to share the ‘Good News’ the greater is the message of Christ being shared”, he said.



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