It is said that a picture is worth thousand words, which is why HasNa has chosen visual story telling as an illustrative tool to depict the similarities and differences in communities on both sides of the Turkish-Armenian border. Side by Side: Digital Stories stands out from other youth programs by displaying the daily life and locally significant historical heritage through short documentaries, captivating images and recording sounds. Consequently, the digital products can be easily shared and provide opportunities to strengthen links between young people throughout their communities. See the above video produced by the participants on the making of Side by Side: Digital Stories.
HasNa implemented its Side by Side: Digital Stories project in the spring of 2013 in coordination with our partner organizations Utopia Art and Education Organization (Gaziantep, Turkey) and Capacity and development for civil society NGO (Vanadzor, Armenia).
Our program partners embarked on this project with us with the goal of providing input towards empowering the network of participants and building virtual bridges to link young people in Turkey and Armenia. The project's goals are to improve relations between youth and also give these young people an opportunity to create digital resources that can act as tangible proof of this cooperation which can be used for further initiatives.
There have been several important outcomes of Side by Side: Digital Stories. Firstly, the participants had the opportunity to showcase their work and present the realities of their lives both to an audience in Washington, DC and online. They also gained an understanding of conflict resolution, which is a HasNa trademark, as well as social media, effective protesting, digital photography and filmmaking. Participants were also able to explore Washington DC and visit its numerous landmarks and museums. The youth in this program had the opportunity to engage with their peers in this unique life changing experience
Side by Side: Digital Stories was a three phase project. During the first phase, which took place in March of 2013, participants from Turkey spent one week travelling in the border region of Turkey to collect digital stories from people living in the area. The second phase brought the Armenian participants to the border region of Armenia to collect similar information. During the third phase, which occurred in May of 2013, both the Turkish and Armenian participants came together and spent 2 weeks in Washington DC. This phase included the final exhibition of photos, film screenings and sound presentations. Participants also underwent conflict resolution training and team building activities to strengthen potential for future cooperation.
There were six participants selected from Armenia and six from Turkey. The individuals were selected in an open and fair process that included an online application followed by interviews (via Skype). All project participants were divided into three groups. Two filmed short documentaries, two took photographs, and two recorded the audio documentation.