Finding and Expressing Your Voice

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 IMG_3962Movements” 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 controIMG_3951versial 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.

Finding and Expressing Your Voice

Cultural Knowledge on the Internet

As emphasized in last weeks readings, the power of social media is greater than we might think it to be. In this weeks readings the importance of social media and the use of internet sources throughout Herrera’s reading was also a topic of great importance.

In the scholarly article, titled Youth and Citizenship in the Digital Age: A View from Egypt by Linda Herrera, we read how the young people of today are refers to as “wired youth” as opposed to kids who are being dumbed down because of the internet, and we come across several personal stories of people who have found their way of expression and sociability through resources the internet provides for them.

Herrera spoke about the lives of many people who used the media sites, such as Facebook, to branch out, video games to find happiness social medand a social life, and blogging as practice for a  professional career. In particular the story of Haisam, introduced in Phase II: Cultural Revolution, caught my attention, and is a prime example of how the internet can expand someone’s cultural knowledge of countries different from their own, and help someone kick off their professional career as journalists, who at first might have only been interested in simply informing their social media followers of the election news happening around them.

In the piece it is mentioned that Haisam’s life was transformed after the internet, “For Haisam, the computer was ‘like a gateway to heaven.” Not only was the internet a way for 24 year old Haisam to explore new music, cinema and enrich his knowledgeculture in different cultures, the internet also lead him and friends he met on online forums, who were also interested in lyrics and music, to convert 125 years worth of Arabic music into digital format, “If not for their labor, this music might have been lost.”

As, both a cinema and a music student I greatly appreciate people who are interested in learning about cinema, and lyrical content of music. Even more so, as a music student who primarily studies middle eastern music, it is because of people like Haisam that I can study musical arabic theory with listening examples, which help me test hearing and allow me to practice distinguishing different maqams in traditional arabic songs.

Not only have people like Haisam been able to experience a “cultural revolution”, but they have also been able to make their own culture and news available to people around the world.

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For my project I am interested in creating a website, the topic of my choice is unclear so I am open to ideas. Designing a webpage has always been something I’ve been interested in doing and I do feel having website design experience is beneficial and useful. For now I’m thinking a webpage where people can share news pieces of around the world, with emphasis in Egypt and countries where revolutionary uprisings are happening. There can also be a section where one can learn about cinema, music and arts of different countries. My idea definitely needs some refining, so if anyone is interested I’d be happy to hear opinions and additional commentary.

Cultural Knowledge on the Internet

Together: Social Media

Social media has been a way for people all over the world to connect, and in Egypt’s case for a revolution to be made possible. Throughout the readings, we came across pieces which have helped m
e understand the potential of social media and its social_media_people1outcomes. In “We are all Khaled Said” we see how social media has worked to bring together teens and people of all ages who have been fighting for police brutality to be stopped among the youths.

The second article, “We Are All Revolutionaries Now: Social Media Networks and the Egyptian Revolution” by David Faris, as opposed to giving just one in depth explanation of a certain situation, tells us more about the effects in general about social media websites. I found the piece being very helpful to help me understand how effective social media can really be. As a user of social media for mostly socializing reasons, I never knew what other ways social media can be used, and even though I have came accross pages involving people of similar political interests, I hadn’t known how important and essential this medium is to keep pushing forth and connecting people to work together to keep striving for social movements.

This article breaks down how Facebook and Twitter have played a role in theimages Egyptian revolution, and how it has been able to give the opportunity to novice activists to engage in a change as well. The article says, “Finally, Social Media Networks are fully comprehensible and usable even to novice activists, needing nothing beyond standard computer literacy (and sometimes not even that).” It is essential that Facebook, twitter and social mediums be accessible to people all over the world, so people can express their beliefs, and come together easily. Accessibility plays a big role on how effective a site may be, as it may be reached and followed by many people around the world at any time. For example, for myself, being able to access the WAAKS Facebook page has helped me become more aware of revolutionary happenings around the world and more informed on police and government brutality in Egypt. Had I not been able to publicly access the webpage through a click of a link, I may have never been informed, and thus would have to seek out other places to follow honest news.

The article also makes a point that using social media is also low cost, “Furthemore, the applications of Social Media Networks are extremely low costs, usually carried within the total cost of accessing the Internet and purchasing the necessary equipment (i.e., laptop, iPad, cell phone).” Along with easy access to web pages, low cost is also important if a site wants to be accessible to a great number of people.

In both articles the media is proven to be a source of connectivity and political activism. As long as we have accessible active social voices circulating in the media, people will be able to be more informed and participate or be a contribution to revolutionary change.

Together: Social Media