Youth Engagement 2.0 – After-School re:publica

At re:publica TEN, some of “Die Bösen Wölfe” (Bad Wolves) were already in action: Three camera teams, made up of ten kids and teens equipped with microphones and cameras and guided by adults, were on the go, reporting and conducting video interviews throughout the event. Read some of the kids' personal accounts here.

“To be honest, we were a bit prejudiced in the run-up to re:publica. That is, the “Bad Wolves” adults were …the kids and youths were on fire from the start. Great, let's go, they said. And on the same day the German Chancellor had decided to pay the French Gymnasium in Berlin a long visit, including a Selfie photo opportunity, personal encounters and discussions, no less... What was happening at the STATION-Berlin was much more exciting.”

Day 2 – Chloé, 15:

“When I was back in school the next day, it seemed strange, almost unreal. Just a day before, I had been in this world of new technologies, and then back in my history lesson, with the teacher talking about the Vienna Congress, about kings and princes, I thought, I don't really care. Because I thought the teacher doesn't really understand what is going on today. And this world attracts you, a world which you previously didn't even know existed at all, because you always thought they were all sitting at home, alone in front of their computers, not even communicating with each other. But now you realize that they really meet each other. This was something I had never experienced before.

Wolf Leopold, 16:

“A conference? No, more like a music festival. I was expecting a more pin-striped event, maybe even ties, but the way it turned out was very informal, leaving lots of room for creativity.”

And what about the Internet, what about digital media? The secret of re:publica's success might well be this:

Chloé, 15: “At re:publica you simply feel welcomed, it doesn't matter whether you have technological knowledge or not. So you really get the impression you are part of the whole thing. A lot of people there are engaged in social areas and make use of the Internet to change something in the 'real' world.”


That was our central question: Real world vs. virtual world? Or as our sixth-graders put it, “Do our offline and online lives have to be opposites?” No, clearly they don't.

Question: Do you think the Internet fosters commitment, or rather prevents it? A typical response came from re:publica participant Leila, 21: “The Internet is just the latest channel where this is taking place”.

Alina, 21: “Well, of course all the speakers and participants had a very positive attitude towards the Internet.”

As a first conclusion, we found there is no distinction between commitment in real life and online. And maybe you don’t have to make a separation between the two anymore.

Clara, 16: “I talked to lots of different people from lots of different areas at re:publica, and they all had very different opinions. But despite all these the differences, people were generally open and friendly, and respectful of one another. The talks were also very inspiring, because they were about topics that concern all of us.”

Emmanuelle, 15: “The exhibition booths were really interesting too. There were loads of gadgets that I've been wanting to try out for a long time, plus lots of things I had never even heard of before – from Wake-me-up biscuits to Virtual Reality movie screenings.”

Incidentally, the TINCON conference – basically re:publica for 13- to 21-year-olds – also took place in May this year, just a fews days later. Our “Bad Wolves” teams were deployed there, too. This got us wondering whether the younger TINCON attendants were more critical of the Internet in general than the crowd at re:publica. Look at some of the responses we got on our website.

Check out the video interviews that the Bad Wolves conducted at re:publica – for example:
German Federal Minister of Labour, Andrea Nahles: In terms of commitment, time is more important than money
Federal Court Judge, Thomas Fischer: No one walks more dogs with the Internet
YouTuber manniac: Just posting a tweet isn't enough
“Last Guest”: Resolve to do something every day – that's commitment
Fashion Designer and Blogger, Melissa Lee: I think Internet is a human right!
Leader of the re:publica pack, Johnny Hauesler: Focus on the non-idiots…
Laila, Nele and Marlene from Berlin: Doing more than you have to

Images: Emmanuelle Denove, Ole Thomas, Christiane Baumann