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.