Ronja — Looking back on Myanmar February 2017

In February 2017 The Caravan’s Journal organised a storytelling trip to Myanmar, where participants joined masterclasses about storytelling and how local professionals use stories to talk about social and political issues. Participants also worked on their own project about the area and one of them was Ronja, a medical student with an interest in journalism and photography. Here is her testimony of what she experienced in the two weeks she was with us.

How do you feel about your experience of going to Myanmar with The Caravan’s Journal?

“The reason I joined The Caravan’s Journal is that I have the intention to work in conflict areas and other remote areas, where there will be political turmoil, and I know that if I’m confident in my journalistic skills, I will be able to process some of the things I see and hopefully publish some insights that haven’t been published before.

The most amazing part for me was the time I got to spend with professional photographers and journalists, who made their work accessible to me. At one time, I went out shadowing Carolina and Emily, a photographer and a journalist while they were working on stories on street gems sellers and Muslims respectively. To see how they balanced professionalism with emotion was a great lesson for me. On that trip with them, it was the first time I made a portrait of a stranger. It gave me a whole new outlook on how you can approach people in an acceptable way, and without that, I would never have been able to do the work I completed over the past few months. After the trip, I continued making a documentary on Yangon, which is still in the making, and I did a photoseries on Karenni in post-conflict Karen state. Without The Caravan’s Journal I would’ve never made any of these photo, so I’ve included them here.”

What would you recommend to participants on the next trip?

“My advice to future participants would be to not shy away from dedicating themselves to ‘small’ stories. The course is about storytelling, and if you find that one old lady with an incredible past, use that. Remember that people from all over the world have no clue what is going on in Jerusalem, and to make some visual or verbal portraits with your own artistic sense can mean the world. Plus, the time that you’ll spend there is so short, so unless you’re very well read or experienced, you won’t be able to capture the gist of whatever incredibly big story you’re after.”

“The most amazing part for me was the time I got to spend with professional photographers and journalists, who made their work accessible to me.”

Follow Ronja on Twitter.

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