Wednesday, 16 March 2016

‘Madrid media training gave us a voice and the facilities to make our voices heard’

We arrived at Dublin Airport, suitcases in hands, ready for the days that lay ahead. We were headed
to Madrid to meet with the other participants of the YouEditEU project – a project that facilitates young people who are active in their community and have an interest in broadcasting and radio.
The idea is that it gives us a voice and the facilities to make our voices heard. What was so amazing about this trip was hearing voices with a similar message to ours come together from all over the world.

Upon our arrival, we headed to our hotel and got settled in before meeting the other teams for
dinner. We were split into two rooms - Aoife Leamy and I in one, Aisling Claffey and Lucy
O'Donovan in the other. We dropped off our suitcases and headed to the restaurant just across the road. There we met the other groups - one group from Germany, another from Spain and, lastly, a group from Hungary.

Immediately it was easy to tell that all of the people in the room were incredibly passionate about what they do. We ordered food all of which was amazing (well, Aoife might say differently)! It seemed they used Google translate to make the English menu and so there were some questionable descriptions. After a long evening we headed back to the hotel to rest up for our radio workshops the next morning.

Our morning proved to be fairly interesting as in our tired state we forgot to reset our clocks to
allow for the time difference, so there was some mad scrambling and a race to the lift in order not to
be late, but it turned out we were the first to arrive! After the rest of the groups joined us we headed to Radio Vallekas for our morning meeting. As a group, we discussed some of the issues that we wanted to address in our features. The plan is to make two features per country in the coming months before our next meeting in Germany.

It was incredibly interesting to hear how the same issues affect different countries and people in varied ways. Talking to people who are so involved in their community and therefore hold said issues so close to heart was truly eye opening.

After our morning workshop, we were served an amazing home-made meal. The food was local
and fresh - a little taste of heaven, you could say. The rest of the afternoon was free time to go and
see some of the city. As a group, we decided we wanted to do something a little less conventional
and so made the decision to do some sightseeing but also visit Fox in a Box - an escape room in
the centre of Madrid.

Upon telling our plan to the other groups, we got some very funny looks. Some knew what an escape room was and others didn’t. For those of you who don’t know, it is a room with a series of challenges and puzzles that need to be completed in order to “escape”. Try explaining that to a group who’s first language is not English; now that’s what I call a challenge!

In true Girl Guiding style, we threw everything we had at the escape room and succeeded in saving
the world. We left Julie (who works there) in hysterics at our enthusiasm, and how easily we got
scared, and left to meet the others for dinner buzzing with energy.

The following day the real work began. We split into groups and picked a topic, such as global
warming, the future of the EU, education etc. We started doing interviews and recording vox pops,
opinion pieces, choosing music and putting together a 10-minute feature around our topic. We
were supplied with editing equipment and recording devices and left to create content.

With a bit of a background in radio and through our trainings with NearFM, we had a good foothold and a fair idea where to start, but this was an amazing opportunity to learn from others involved in similar projects and with a passion for radio. We improved our editing skills, preproduction, language use and ear for good content.

After a long day we headed back to the hotel to freshen up before a meeting in the local community centre to learn about the background of radio in Madrid and what part it plays in the community. We met with producers and hosts of other stations across Spain and heard from them as to what radio does for them and their local community. Hearing about the difference it makes and how much of a voice it gives to people who usually go unheard was inspiring and humbling all at once. We chatted with different people from the radio stations and heard some really intriguing stories and backgrounds before we fell victim to the groans of our hunger and so headed out to find some food.

One of the Spanish participants recommended an area in the city and there we found a gorgeous
tapas bar where we caught up on each others’ day and shared our experiences working with the other participants.

On Saturday we visited Matadero - an old slaughter house that has been converted into a community arts centre. It’s a space full of beautiful buildings and architecture. There we finished the
editing of our features in the morning and explored the gardens and the exhibitions before killing
some time playing team-building games, such as ninja and splat, much to the amusement of the
general public who were stopping to watch us all and even take a picture or two.

The afternoon consisted of a panel discussion about the importance of community radio and why it
needs more funding in Madrid. Our last day was a perfect ending to an amazing long weekend. We convinced Dorothee and Sally, our hosts from NearFM, to do the second escape room. Our morning was spent full of laughter and screaming (again) in the zombie-themed room, which we also successfully completed, saving the world twice in one weekend. Then we headed to the market where we wandered amongst stands full of amazing colours and a great atmosphere, eating lunch sitting in the sun in the nearby square and then taking a nap in the park before making our way to the airport.

We left Madrid feeling blissful from the sun and full of new skills we can’t wait to put in action. We
have projects up our sleeves for the next few months and can’t wait to meet up with all the others
again in Germany to see where the project has taken us all.

Our features from Madrid will hopefully be put on the website so make sure you take a look and have a listen!  

~ Catherine Swanwick blogs at

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