Voices from the Field: Addressing Diversity through Dialogue

May 17, 2012 6:40 PM ET
Broadcasts in the central market promote audience interaction.

Media Impact: In the News

Sandy Guillet is an Our Voices participant from Cochabamba, Bolivia. Our Voices is a national program to promote plurality and diversity, access to communications and information, and citizen participation in Bolivia.  During the first phase of the program, 36 radio stations from around the country hosted Entertainment-Education radio talk shows featuring the program’s radio drama thriller, Dark City.  Now in its second phase, the program is empowering even more stations to create talk shows for the drama and to participate in a national community action campaign to raise awareness about the issues.

Sandy’s radio station, Radio CEPJA, introduced innovative community mobilization activities during the first phase of the program.  By partnering with other radio stations, Radio CEPJA engaged school children in classrooms and youth at the city’s Central Market in meaningful discussions about diversity and plurality and how to work together to find solutions to social issues.  This year, Sandy was selected from more than 30 applicants as one of six mentors for the new stations participating in the second phase of the program.  Her goal is to help the new stations develop engaging talk shows to discuss the issues presented in the drama and to help implement a national Our Voices campaign in her region. The excerpt below is a transcription of Sandy discussing her efforts to mobilize the community during the first phase of the Our Voices program.


The community mobilization component of the methodology was very important for us because we believed that the messages of the radio drama needed to go beyond the broadcast, that they should generate an effect, a reaction in the listeners.  Because of this, three stations including ours -- Radio CEPJA, Radio Kancha Parlaspa and Radio CEPRA -- decided to work together, to unite our efforts, our ideas, our expectations, our hopes with regard to what we could accomplish in the community by working together to promote citizen participation, the right to access communication and information, plurality and diversity. 

One project we did together with youth from several classrooms at schools from the southern and northern zones of Cochabamba.  The small encounter turned into a huge forum for debate in which the youth and adolescents shared their stories about plurality and diversity, answering the question: “How do we feel in relation to others?”  They said sometimes we exclude people because they are from the right or the left, tall or short, speak an indigenous language or one that is different from our own, or wear black or pink clothes. We had a nice experience because we worked with a group of people that is excluded from conversations about these questions, these issues – plurality and diversity.  

The youth were able to suppress their feelings from their own negative experiences to look for solutions to their problems.  And the radio drama Dark City, which many people listened to, achieved, motivated, incentivized these youth to respond to another’s story by saying, “That also happened to me.  If you propose a solution, I can follow your example, or I choose another path, but let’s build solutions together.”