Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) works with Western Sydney communities on arts projects, often with a focus on technology, and their latest screen project is DigiDiaries. Muslim youth from Western Sydney were provided with training and tools to tell their stories in two-minute multimedia pieces. The pieces are not slick but of course this isn’t the point. They’re packed with animation, illustration and personal voice-overs that give a raw and open representation of what it’s like to be growing up with a story that can mark one as different. Microprojects like these can be a simple visual way to not only tell stories to the families, friends and peers of those creating them, but vitally the process itself can be empowering for the youth creating them – the fact that someone is giving them the tools to help articulate and amplify their voices is a confirmation of validity. Here’s hoping we see more of these voices rising out of Western Sydney and minority communities in the future.

Amin Palangi, Project Cooridinator, DigiDiaries says “Producing DigiDiaries for Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) was an absolute privilege and a process that I enjoyed thoroughly. It was a great feeling to work with participants who normally do not have a chance or the means to tell their stories, and to provide them with the ability and techniques to do so. Some of the participants, for example, had experienced great trauma and difficulty and had never really spoken about it until this project. The process allowed them to tap into their experience and find the words to express themselves. Even though sometimes their English abilities did not allow them to express themselves fully, verbally, through a combination of words and images, they still have managed to get their moving stories across through to the audience. For many it was an important step in helping them regain their voice and self-confidence. When they saw their work on the big screen, I could definitely see how proud they were of their work. This project, however, aside from being a platform for individual voices was an important contribution in community building and bridging the gap of misconceptions and stereotypes between Muslim groups and other groups in the community at large. These stories that emerged from this project are resonances of our universal stories of human life that we all share regardless of our sociopolitical or religious background. This is why even if just one person feels touched by any of these stories, beyond the cultural background out of which its narrator comes from, I feel that this project has been successful in its aim.”

Special thanks to project partners Fairfield High School and their intensive English Centre, Sule College, Auburn Community Development Network (ACDN) and Afghan Hazare Youth Group. This project is supported by Arts NSW and Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC)