Training Materials

Guideline No.1: Writing for Change

[Download PDF: No1_iMekong_WritingForChange]


‘Writing’ is not simply a medium of communication, but also a form of technology and art. For centuries, people formed collections of writings that continue to inspire new ideas, to express social critiques, and to use as a tool for social change. This guideline aims to establish the foundation to achieve those goals.

This guideline indicates some basic but key rules for writing for change. It also can be used as a reminder of how to write a story efficiently, which can be expanded into writing grant proposals, campaigning plans, and articles. It is divided into two fundamental components: structuring and framing. We hope this guideline will be useful for students, activists, campaigners, and journalists as guidance for improving writing skills, and also for strengthening their voices [read more].

Guideline No. 2: Frames, Framing and Reframing

[Download PDF:No2_iMekong_FramesFramingandReframing]

A frame is an organization of perception towards a particular occurrence. Frames are often used interchangeably with many other terms, such as claim, angle, point of view, perspective, discourse, and assumption of an event or a thing. In this factsheet, “frame” refers to a central claim of a particular reality.

The two common types of frames are: (1) generic frame, which can be identified across different subjects, cultures and political views, such as conflict, human interest, collective action, and moral; (2) issue frame, which is specified to certain fractions of reality, such as carbon trade, global warming, and ecological justice, those are used in climate change debates [read more].

Guideline No. 3: Mind-mapping

[Download PDF: No3_iMekong_MindMapping]


mind-map is a tool for processing information and organizing ideas. Mind-maps are a visual form of note taking that offers an overview of a topic and its associations with other things. A mind-map is drawn as web-like or tree-like structure of words, pictures, or short phrases. In the central of a mind-map is indicating a topic you want to discuss or write about (in the middle of the page), and stemming out to different relevant main ideas, and branching out to many other sub-ideas.

Mind mapping helps writers to: (a) to comprehend a complex issue (b) to explore or create new ideas or associations of things around that topic, and (c) to build connections and relationships surrounding a specific issue [read more].

Guideline No. 4: Cognitive Bias and Framing Effect

[Download PDF: No4_iMekong_CognitiveBiasFramingEffect]


Writing is a form of communication, involves senders, messages (contents), channels (media), and receivers (audience). When communicating, the more you understand your audience, the better you create powerful messages and properly use media. Cognitive bias and framing effect are key to understanding your audience.

Understanding cognitive bias and framing effect also enhances your ability to be critical when you encounter any kind of information. Ultimately, awareness of cognitive biases helps reduce the power of social-political discourses that may suppress people.

Cognitive bias is an information processing pattern; when individuals are creating their social reality about other people and situations. Those perceived realities can be both in logical or illogical fashion. Cognitive biases usually occur when people have limited time or capacity to process new information. In these cases, people usually make decisions based on their previous experiences, beliefs, and emotions rather than objective input [read more].

Guideline No.5: Quote It Right and with the Right Quote

[Download PDF:No5_iMekong_HowtoQuote]


The primary function of quotation is to represent exact languages and wordings that come from somebody else. Quotation is also used when you (the author) cannot represent or paraphrase in any way better than the original source. It is crucial to incorporate quotes in your story at the right place and time, and with the right quote, to help empower your argument.

Use the right quote. The right quote is meant to present the authentic voice of your sources. To reproduce their important statement by quoting it can also affect readers’ opinions or policies. Writing quotes retrieved from villagers, politicians, and policy-makers, etc., into your story might be newsworthy and may result in a positive change in society.

Example 1: Dang Kieu Nhan, a researcher at Can Tho university, points to an old Vietnamese saying: “If you want to make a good living, go to the Mekong delta: it’s hard to be hungry there.” This sentence appeared in The Economist (Feb, 2016), and it shows the underlying meaning of how rich and diverse the Mekong delta’s flora and fauna are.

Example 2: Laos might nonetheless esteem the views of its Western consultants. But it heard very different advice from America’s Secretary of State, when she made her recent visit to the region. “I’ll be very honest with you. We made a lot of mistakes,” Hilary Clinton said in her opening remarks to the ASEAN summit. She was talking about dams built in the United States. This paragraph appeared in The Economist (July, 2012), and was used to emphasize a point the author has already made in contrast with the Laos’s decision on building hydropower dams [read more].

PURDUE Online Writing Lab
“Logic in Argumentative Writing”

This handout is designed to help writers develop and use logical arguments in writing. This handout helps writers analyze the arguments of others and generate their own arguments. However, it is important to remember that logic is only one aspect of a successful argument. Non-logical arguments, statements that cannot be logically proven or disproved, are important in argumentative writing—such as appeals to emotions or values. Illogical arguments, on the other hand, are false and must be avoided [read more].

Summary: This resource covers using logic within writing—logical vocabulary, logical fallacies, and other types of logos-based reasoning.

Contributors: Ryan Weber, Allen Brizee (2013)

Would you like to improve your writing?

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When you have a story idea that you want to write, the best thing you can do is go for it! People write for different reasons and purposes, some people write to express themselves, but some people write to make an impact on their lives or others.

To convey a particular message in a story to bring about a social change is such a craft that an author needs to pay attention, to practice and to do experiments with words. Here are some tips for writers to improve their work and keep them in mind while crafting a powerful story.

Get your idea out, organize it and then go with the flow!

Click here for further reading.


Conceptualizing, Capturing and Empowering Communities with the Participatory Photography

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Many rules and tips are available online for any individual beginners or professional photographers learning how to take ‘a good photo‘. Including for someone to learn to get more creative about taking a better and more powerful photo by breaking the rules.

However, a photovoice is quite different. It is usually created by community members who would like to create an alternative narrative of a certain socio-political, cultural and environmental issue. Ultimately, a photovoice is a process used to empower a local community, and as a tool to reach out to policymakers – thus to make a social change at the community and policy level.

Click here for more further reading.

Guideline No.6: Frames and Framing

– Learn to break it and build one. –

When you are communicating you will frame, when you are framing, you will communicate.

[Download PDF: No6_iMekong_BreakandBuildFrames]


Framing is a process. Framing comes naturally when you are communicating, e.g., writing, drawing, speaking, etc., which sometimes is strategically designed to call for action. A frame is an organization of selective perception towards a particular reality.

In other words, a frame helps an audience to understand a particular situation in a particular way. In our daily life, we experience framing at all times, from different media outlets, for example, advertisement, movies, political campaigns, news, etc. (please see Guideline No. 2 and 4 for more iMekong’s factsheets on frames and framing).

You may intentionally or unintentionally frame your message that serves your purpose. A message often consists of several elements designed to persuade an audience, e.g., textual, visual, and sound, to do or not to do something [read more].

Guideline No.7: Intercultural Exchanging Activities

To conduct a youth training – though for different purposes, it usually requires common activities to build a key understanding for cooperation among the trainees.

[Download PDF:No7_iMekong_IntercultExActivities]


Specifically, conducting a training for diverse groups of people, in terms of cultural, social, and political backgrounds, it is essential to bring a concept to everyone that “we are different, but that is not to be judged.”

This iMekong‘s factsheet No. 7 ‘Intercultural Exchanging Activities’ offers a few activities and games, which have been done in the past, for training young activists and writers. iMekong hopes that this factsheet will come in handy for current and future young trainers, to help build the desired Mekong community where the young people are engaging more in the socio-political and environmental issues [read more].

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