The first Feminist Tech Exchange in Pakistan a pleasant surprise
I think that although I have always been an optimist, in many ways I am a cynic as well :). Although I was confident that most of the participants that we had nominated for the first Train the Trainer program of the MDG3 Feminist Tech Exchange were confident, dedicated, talented, hardworking, fun-loving individuals with a strong commitment to making a difference to the society and the community, I wasn’t really sure what the take-away from this first workshop would be.
Having attended zillions of conferences, seminars and workshops over the years, I am very often put off by the format of such things. There are facilitators or speakers who, through those much-dreaded Powerpoints, tell us how much they know, how much they have achieved and what we should do to join the ranks of the successful and be more like them.
Fortunately for us, the FTX facilitators turned out to be pleasantly very different. Jan, Jenny, Val and Cheekay have put a structure to the workshop no doubt, but the space has been very much ours. From the get-go participants have been encouraged to share, to create and to be a part of the proceedings.
It started with the three videos that we were shown. They showed each of us how a simple but impactful message could be created using very basic tools. It didn’t require one to be a creative genius or a nerd.
The story circles were powerful and totally unexpected. The sharing of experiences (our own or those in which we played a central role) revealed much more than any of us had really expected. The struggle, the abuse, the violence, the challenges and the eventual strength, confidence, success and empowerment that resulted from not letting the circumstances engulf us but deciding to survive instead and go on to empower others, was a message that came clearly through.
Sure there were tears as many talked about very personal experiences for the very first time but it resulted in catharsis of a sort although it was unbelievably draining. I think that the sharing of the stories and experiences created a bond between most of the participants. It also showed them that they were not alone, that things happened which were sometimes totally out of their control. It also spelt out quite clearly the many varied societal issues that exist and how some have managed to not only survive them but have got stronger because of it, and are now prepared to help others avoid similar challenges and issues.
More later. Have to attend Day 5.
In the meantime, here are links to blog posts put up by some of the facilitators: