By Antonio Lizano
ST. PAUL —Recently I was invited to speak at the graduation ceremony for the very first Asian Media Technology Training. That night the Asian community was overflowing with gratitude as supportive families of the graduates filled the audience of over 100 people.
The 15 graduating students were honored and proud to be the first group to take part in this media training provided by the Asian Community Technology Center, with assistance from the University of Minnesota’s Broadband Access Project.
The training lasted six months and concentrated on teaching students the five most common ways to use media in today’s world. Topics of study covered how to put together a newspaper, how to craft interviews for radio broadcast, how to construct a website or a blog, how to develop a social media strategy and how to create videos that can be used to transmit messages.
After the ceremony I talked to some of the graduates about what they wanted to do with their newfound knowledge. Some of them had the idea to start a publication that would let people know about their community, others were looking to reach out and connect with other communities. Some even wanted to use their new skills to develop a for-profit project that would focus on creating a magazine or radio program to promote the positive aspects of their community. Even though the amount of information was overwhelming the graduates pulled through. Now they have a whole new set of skills that will help them thrive in today’s media focused world. Also impressive is that so many of the graduates want to use what they learned to spread a positive message about their communities, showing the determination of people of color to continue to make strides towards making their voices heard.
The course was created by the Asian Community Technology Center but none of this success would have been possible without the aid of the Broadband Access Project (BAP), a project run through the University of Minnesota’s Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center. The BAP, which seeks to lessen the digital divide by increasing broadband access, awareness, and use in four federally designated poverty zones in Minneapolis and St. Paul, is funded with the aid of a federal stimulus grant.
Group trainings targeting all levels of proficiency are offered at the larger BAP public computer centers. These trainings cover topics such as Microsoft Office, financial support, social media for business use, and even Internet programming and design. Customized trainings – such as the Asian Media Technology Training – are also available for small businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Since 2009, the BAP has opened doors for community members to develop the technological skills needed to succeed in today’s times.
The Asian Community Technology Center, in partnership with the Broadband Access Project, will continue to provide free training and access through December 2012. These trainings will help lessen the growing digital divide among underserved communities in the Twin Cities metro. For more information please visit www.bap.umn.edu/centers/actr, call 612-625-BAP1 (2271), or email [email protected] ο