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What Can I Say? Except that No One But Us Can Tell Our Stories

“What can I say? What do I know?” These are words that my grandmother said often, even if what she had to say had to do with her life and things that she would know more about than anyone else. I now understand these words to be words women of her age (and perhaps not only women of her age) grew accustomed to saying: it means, I am not an expert (even of my own life), others (often men) know better than me and who am I, but a humble woman trying to survive and make a home for my family.

Interestingly enough, I wanted to start this entry with those same words:

What can I say?

I grew up in Toronto, Canada, and was living a pretty average life as a queer, vegetarian, 30-something Armenian-Canadian woman up until a couple of years ago when I came to Armenia, to participate in what was regarded as the first queer women’s art exhibit in the country. I exhibited a photo series I had prepared specifically for this show called “My Fragmented Self.”

But what really changed the course of things for me was meeting my partner that summer. She lives here (was born here) and after a year of Skype and phone conversations, I made the move to Yerevan. We lived together for a year with her mom in their apartment until just recently. I am just as crazy about her as I was over two years ago and I haven’t regretted any minute of my decision to move here. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I like to think of myself as an optimist and I’m hoping it can only get brighter and better!

As for being inspired to apply for Voice of Our Future, the inspiration came from a friend of mine: a Dutch expat who’s been living in Armenia for over 5 years and learned the language probably faster than I could learn Dutch! What really interested me about this program is the marriage of women’s empowerment and citizen journalism. Though I never went to journalism school, I have always been interested in telling stories and in using media as a tool to give voice to those who are often silenced or simply unheard. Prior to moving to Armenia, I started a blog, which I consider to be one of the best decisions I made in my life. From that came Facebook and Twitter and discovering the power and reach of Web 2.0. And through the accessibility of the web, I have made connections and been introduced to stories of people that I wouldn’t have otherwise made or heard through mainstream media. I have embraced the concept and practice of citizen journalism, because — as I should’ve told my grandmother before she passed away — we are the experts of our own lives and no one else can tell our stories better than us.

Comments

Fungai Machirori's picture

Fellow blogger woman!

Hi there,

Thank you for the background to you. You sound like an interesting person and hope we can do this course together and learn from each other's experiences!

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

adrineh's picture

Thank you!

Wow, what compliments and so fast! I just posted that entry about 2 minutes ago ;) I love that we not only get the chance to write in this online community, but also we get to be heard! And proof of that, of course, are comments by readers like you, Fungai. Thank you!

olutosin's picture

BEAUTIFUL!

The beginning captivated me, I was trying to read to the end in order to read what I was expecting because that is the only sentence that places the seal....LOL...we are the experts of our own lives and no one else can tell our stories better than us.
It took me a 6 months training from Worldpulse to believe that I CAN DO IT, NO ONE CAN DO IT BETTER FOR ME!
Love you loads baby. Just because you know it too.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Myrthe's picture

I'm happy we're such a

I'm happy we're such a positive influence on each other, jan! ;-)

adrineh's picture

Thanks!

Thanks, Myrthe jan ;)

JT Long's picture

What can I say? Thank you

I know exactly the tone of voice your grandmother used. It means that she really does know, but isn't allowed to say. I'm so glad you have found a chance to tell the world what you know. Thank you for sharing.

JT Lng

telling stories; creating communities

adrineh's picture

Thank you

Thank you, JT Lng, for your comment and your kind words. You're right: she really did know, but perhaps was never given the chance to say it.

jbaljko's picture

Courageous move

Hi
I admire your choice to pack up and move to Armenia from Canada. It must have been a big lifestyle change. I am curious to know more how things are unfolding for you there, and what challenges you face. Also, it's wise of you to hear the meaning of your grandmother's words through both her view of the world and the broader perspective you have now in your own life. Like JT Lng, I can hear the tone your grandmother used, and the sadness she probably felt in not be able to express what she knew. How lucky we are now that we have an outlet like World Pulse where these stories can be told. Thanks for sharing,
Jenn

"The secret of happiness is freedom,
and the secret of freedom, courage."
-Thucydides, ancient Greek historian & author

adrineh's picture

Thank you, Jenn, for your

Thank you, Jenn, for your comment to the post. As in everything and everywhere, I take it one day at a time. Some days are better than others: what I can't stop doing is comparing Yerevan to Toronto and what's better here vs. what's better there. I see the good and the bad in places that I have lived, but it's harder to find the good in the place where you currently are because the bad is so much more prevalent. You know what they say, the grass is greener on the other side. But it only appears that way. I'm learning to be grateful for the love and the people in my life and for my chance to live in this ever-changing city and country. I am learning to find the good in the every day ;)

olakitike's picture

Telling our own Stories

A publishing house in Nigeria uses the caption, telling our own stories. I agree with you that we are the experts of our own lives and it is crucial that we tell the stories not somebody else.
I will llike to know what your personal vision is and how that aligns with the VOF prgram.
I believe you are woman who has a lot to say.
I hope to hear from you soon.
All the very best dear,
Ayobami

adrineh's picture

Hi Ayobami

Thank you for your comment! I live in Armenia, a small, land-locked country bordered by Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran — out of these four countries, Armenia has open borders with only two. Conflict and the threat of yet another war in the region is an ongoing possibility and the media in the South Caucasus is very rarely (if ever) truly independent, objective and neutral. I — along with many others I'm sure — am tired of the negative portrayals of the "enemy" in the media and I'm tired of the lack of women's voices in all sectors, but most especially in the press, in the conflict and in our future. I believe there is a need for more (alternative) stories to be heard that are not being given the platform to be told and that includes looking at women's role in the conflict and at initiatives aimed at peace-building. I would like to be part of creating this space and of vocalizing not only my own story, but those of other women, by creating the platform for their stories to be heard. I will be starting a project with a partner in Azerbaijan called Women's Voices as part of a larger project called "Armenia-Azerbaijan: unbiased e-media reporting" and I believe that my personal vision, this project and the VOF program all align under these aims of empowering women, citizen journalism and communicating, not to mention collaborating, across borders.

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