Every one of the speakers yesterday was very influential and motivational, and had their own unique stories to share. Each was fighting for their own cause, and it was a great experience to get an insight on the research and projects they were working on.
During the “Radical Democrats and Legacies of Combat: Strategies and Movements” speakers, from 1:30-3:00, a speaker Ranwa Yehia, gave a great talk on the amazing project
she has been working on for years. During her talk, titled “Pre-and Post 2011: Building Communities Around Expression and Critique”, she spoke about the yearly project she works on, a summer camp which allows about 60-80 students from the age of 12 and 15 to find their political voice and express themselves through a source of social medium.
After her talk I was able to talk to her and she walked me through the steps in which these children-young adults, find their political voice. She says, during the first couple of days of the camp, when approached to ask to share their opinion, the students first try and respond with the answer they think is “correct”, however when they realize that they don’t need to agree with others on political views and controversial topics, they rebel and try to to find ways to act out. However, soon enough each individual does start to find their personal believes on issues, they then join a project that seems appealing to them and they learn how to express themselves to the art of media making.
She also explained how although the forms of media used to express the opinions of these young students might sound familiar to us, for example making a short video, to the kids the projects are foreign, as they come from communities which usually do not have the equipment to allow them the chance to make these sorts of projects. However, throughout the camp they realize that they can still be political activists free of cost, wether it be spreading their knowledge among community members, protests, etc.
I think what made me so intrigued by Ranwa Yehia’s project is that through media and art these students are able to find and own their political voice, not just for the time of the camp but for their whole lives. Although they come from communities which may not allow them or give them the opportunity to express what they think and feel, the camps are a way to make that happen. I believe it is important to not be silenced, wether it be vocally, or even holding on to certain social values mentally. It is essential that children and young adults are given opportunities, such as Ranwa’s camp, to learn about different technological resources there are to mediate your voice, and above all to find your voice. Exposure to technological equipment also allows the students not only to grow vocally but to grow knowledgeable about advancements in general equipment used to make art and to express a thought or tell a story.