Debate Echoes Through The desert

After a vibrant student life in the heart of Tunis, I was assigned to teach English in the remote quiet town of Kebili in the Tunisian South.

Although I had already stepped out of my comfort zone a couple of times by then, that sudden move felt, at that time, like it was going to be the litmus test of my strength. The silence of youth in that part of Tunisia is overwhelming, and it is even more exacerbated by a physical absence from the public sphere due to the lack of culture and entertainment hubs in the region.

The Young Mediterranean Voices programme, with its unique medium of debate, was and still is the ideal platform for breaking the isolation of youth in remote areas that are brimming with talent and potential but most importantly yearning for a voice. Kebilli was an open terrain for such an " intervention " but not without obstacles. Being a young teacher meant that it would take some time to be taken seriously but it also meant that the good old-fashioned generation gap between teacher and student was non-existent. I reached out to as many students as possible who themselves made use of their network to spread the word about the debate club. The idea was met with derision and condescension at first, even from young people.

Now, Kebilli is on the map of debate in Tunisia .Its young debaters have participated in regional competitions ; they met high profile decision makers but perhaps the most important impact is the fact that there is a group of young people waiting to launch a second debate club with Young Mediterranean Voices .The seeds of a culture of debate have been sown so that the voices of young people in Kebili are no longer muffled. Cutting through that deafening silence made their voices heard and mine louder and more articulate.

Reem Macherki – YMV2020 Master Facilitator