We don't always want to be known for the most vulnerable or emotional story of our lives. New York Times best-selling author of How to Be Black, Baratunde Thurston, once asked his live audience not to tweet or record his telling of a personal story at a public venue because he's "not interested in that story blowing up and getting lots of YouTube hits. I'm not interested in being KNOWN for it...the idea of people streaming and live-tweeting and uploading this personal, intimate tale felt like a violation."
Stories created during the five-day workshop were recorded in seven different local languages- a record number of different languages in a single workshop, in the 21-year history of the Center for Digital Storytelling. The young people who participated told personal stories of surviving and thriving in the aftermath of economic hardship, difficult relationships, teenage pregnancy, sexual assault, and sexually transmitted infections. Their powerful stories took shape as short films. The stories offer youth-friendly information, open up sensitive topics, and illustrate the need for improvements in adolescent sexual health services.
For many of the participants, the workshop represented the first time they had ever held a camera. After the group shared their stories, one participant, a No Yawa peer educator, said that even though she was sad to hear what others had spoken of, she was also moved to action. Another said “I am so humbled by all these stories. I always thought I went through the most terrible experience as a young boy until I heard others speak during the workshop. I feel so relieved after sharing my story, and I am happy I have shared it to help other young people.”
World Contraception Day (September 26th) marked the premiere in Port Moresby of a collection of moving digital stories created by youth peer educators from around Papua New Guinea. The videos, which offer rare and thoughtful insights into deeply real issues that affect adolescents all over the world – peer pressure, first boyfriends, and fear of unwanted pregnancy – were shown to a theatre full of students and dignitaries, as well as members of the press and media, as part of a film festival organized by the United Nations.