About the Workshops
“In the hopes of being able to say something, I filmed and was able to reach out.” ~ Raghad
Another Kind of Girl Collective
Another Kind of Girl Collective is a media arts collective that equips girls in the midst of displacement with the creative and technical means to explore and articulate their inner worlds and daily lives through film and photography. Started in 2014 with Syrian teenage girls living as refugees in Jordan, the workshops in Jordan’s Za’atari Refugee Camp and the city of Irbid continue to train the girls to express their inner worlds and document their everyday lives – how it looks, feels and sounds from the ground, at the heart of their world.
For the girls, the experience of narrating their worlds through film and photography transforms the foreign landscape of the refugee camp and urban communities into new terrain for exploration, self-discovery and self-expression. Each individual girl is encouraged to follow the personal and artistic voice that she is discovering, and to experiment with different artistic approaches to storytelling. The workshops provide a safe and adventurous space where the girls can take risks, make mistakes, and support each other in their ideas and transformations. Taking photos and video has become a way for them to articulate the sometimes unspeakable, a lens through which to look at and experience the world around them in new ways, and a tool with which they are able to investigate and start to ask themselves and the world around them critical questions.
The initial 6-10 week workshops in 2014-2015 resulted in a series of photographs, writing and 7 short films. The films and photographs were screened first for the local community and went on to have a broader international impact. The films have shown at many international festivals including Sundance, Cannes, and SXSW. They have been featured in conferences addressing the refugee crisis such as the EU Conference on Women Refugees and Asylum Seekers. They have won numerous awards and been featured on various media outlets such as the New York Times, NPR's The World and Morning Edition.
For these girls, storytelling offers the possibility not just to change the trajectories of their own personal stories but to offer this possibility of change to other girls, and to give alternative ways of seeing to people in their communities and to the world beyond.
As one of the young artists said recently, “I want to show the rest of the world that even though we live in a refugee camp, and have different lives, we still have dreams and ambitions. We are creative. We strive to rise above our limitations. I feel it’s my responsibility not just to tell the world that truth, but to let people see it for themselves.”
Since the first round of workshops, the girls have expressed a desire to acquire deeper knowledge of the technical and artistic means to tell their community’s stories, as well as have a supportive community through which they can continue to create more work. Together we have initiated the Another Kind of Girl Collective, an arts collective with their female peers that supports further learning, artistic production and social engagement. As a collective they will be able to support each other in continuing to create individual artistic work, as well as being active in dialogue on the local and global issues that impact their lives, allowing them to shape the world that they envision for themselves, their community, their country and the world.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
“I want to show the rest of the world that even though we live in a refugee camp, and have different lives from others, we still have dreams and ambitions. We are creative. We strive to rise above our limitations and work toward our dreams. I feel it’s my responsibility not just to tell the world that truth, but to let people see it for themselves.” ~ Khaldiya
"It’s important for girls to bring things from inside to the outside. Our society often makes girls feel like they have to be ashamed of themselves, so many girls are afraid of speaking up. It’s important for them to bring these things outside because girls go through things in their lives, and so many girls are afraid of speaking up. For me, the workshops gave me courage and helped me not be afraid to tell my story to people. I hope that each young woman is able to express her inner-self directly and indirectly, and that she can just break the world. It doesn’t matter, just break it all over the place…” ~ Walaa
“I liked to take photographs in the market because I felt like I wanted to show how people are living in the camp. We get dressed up, we eat, we drink and we use perfume. Not as they might imagine. They think that we are living here like we were living in Syria: waiting for death. It’s true, when we first came it was really hard for us, and we were missing our country very much. But thankfully, just like we are remembering moments back in Syria right now, tomorrow when we go back to Syria, we will remember a lot of moments from here.” ~ Bayan
The workshops were developed and facilitated by documentary filmmaker/educator Laura Doggett and documentary animator/educator Tasneem Toghoj. Khuzama Alzoubi and Jenn Durrett assisted.
The 2016 workshops were supported by FilmAid, UNAOC and the AL Mailman Family Foundation, and hosted by the International Rescue Committee's Womens Center in Irbid and the Taekwondo Academy in Za'atari Refugee Camp. The 2015 workshops were supported by DFID and the International Rescue Committee. The 2014 workshops were supported by the Felsman Fellowship, WomenOne and Save the Children International.