We are made of tiny little stories

One of the first things I asked Professor Gilbert in one of our earlier class sessions was concerning the kind of tone with which we were supposed to express ourselves in the blog. Of course, blogs are not newspapers or magazines – they support a different, more informal and at the same time real, tone of journalism that allows a more in-depth exploration of the subject. On the other hand, we want blogs to be taken seriously – bloggers do engage in serious interviewing and fact checking. So, this was sort of my first lesson in MMJ this semester: take your blog very seriously, but don’t spare coloring it with an individual touch. Oh, and first person doesn’t work that well.

Well, I tried following this rule as much as possible this semester. This was sort of my personal guiding lesson: ‘make it about the subject’. This often includes tolerance towards the interviewee, even when the interviewee is not helping your cause of enriching the virtual world with inspired stories about human nature. So maneuvering through the semester while trying to discover interesting answers to the question ‘How did you step out of your comfort zone?’, I tried for the focus of the blog to be as far away from the blogger – namely I – as possible.
I am obviously breaking this rule of literary altruism today. It is after all the last post, and a first person perspective is the only way to go at this point in the semester. After all, how is the new found love for twitter supposed to be relevant, if you (whoever it is that’s reading) didn’t know that I hated Twitter before this class? Lesson #2. Twitter is awesome.

So, I’m going back to my ‘About’ writing style for this post, just so that I can describe a few of all the things we did this semester.

In my first post, I wanted, through one simple picture, to express what diversifying meant for me, so I posted this Allen Ginsberg quote about not hiding the madness. Then, through a lot of motivation and hard work, prof. Gilbert taught all of us how not to hide our madness, how to pursue our interests and talents, and how to be the best of what we can in video and sound editing, interviewing, writing and, most importantly, fighting time!

However, the most important lessons came from my interviewees throughout the semester. I asked one question: “how do you step out of your comfort zone?” I got numerous, diverse answers that made the blog worth having and this class worth taking. I met people – both in the real world and online – and adapted some of their advice in my life. And, honestly, what’s better than a place where you can go, learn life lessons, and get credit for it? Not many have the pleasure.

In this context, my work here is done. Don’t fret however – in case you ever did. This is not goodbye…next semester I will be hopefully getting some answers from people in Holland and sharing some of the Netherlands wisdom.

Until then, live well. Live differently…and don’t forget to step out of your comfort zone, every once in a while. 😉

Diversity inside the classroom.

There is nothing better than having to do something creative for once, instead of something common.

That has been the case with this MMJ class from the beginning. Starting from the interesting in-class assignments, to the creative style of journalistic writing we get taught, and continuing with the midterm and this final project of bliss.

I will try to talk about this without giving out too many details.

For this week, we need to construct a video (a story, clip, trailer, news package etc). The only criteria is that the video is made out of the blogs created this semester.

We called our project ‘Playland’. Continue reading

Unconventional, Independend, Free-Spirited

Ayna Pirkuliyeva has that ‘head-turner’ effect that we often, enviously, notice in movie characters.1471925_707871229223573_102104988_n

Picture this. Blonde long hair, with just enough pink stripes to spike it up. Blue eyes. Piercings and a big smile on her face. Her tattoos – or body art, as we art people like to call them – match her JMC major, her hobbies and her unique fashion sense. What distances her even more from reality is her talent in many arts.

“I am 20. I am a painter. Love oil paints, water colors and pencil. For the past two and a half years i have been into body art – body painting and temporary tattoos – loved that. Also love reading, THEATRE, hosting on the radio. Love music and dancing to it…”

However, I have only had the chance to meet Ayna in the real world. The reason why I wanted to interview her is because I always thought of Ayna as a person who never really had a comfort zone. A couple of semesters ago, while taking a journalism class together, Ayna shared her story with the class. She explained how in her country, Turkmenistan, it’s not only her looks that stand out (Ayna’s complexion is not a conventional one), but also her personality and choice of life, as people there barely accept tattoos, piercings, or anything art-related. This means that, in a way, everything she ever did was unconventional and, dare I say, diverse.

“Yeah, home isn’t exactly comfort zone unfortunately.” Continue reading

Introducing the cool side of the internet – Storify and ThingLink

We journalism majors sometimes think there is no place for improvement – we like to believe we know all there is to know. Imagine the horror of being introduced to a webpage that tells stories better than you.

It’s called Storify.

We learned about Storify today in my multimedia journalism class. Don’t mind my skepticism – it is actually a great tool. Storify filters through multiple social media – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. etc – using key words and hash tags to serve individuals in selecting the most spicy or noteworthy posts in order to create a story. Twitter presents Storify in the form of a book, as the program itself allows story makers to comment based on the content of their story. Also, the program helps in visualizing stories, creating story lines and keeping track of the message a story wants to transmit.

My first Storify was focused on Quentin Tarantino. He is my favorite director and all of his movies, with no exception, present separate cases of diversity in film and art. The tweets I used depicted his career (he is after all director of Pulp Fiction), some of his quotes and most famous projects and the rumors that he is planning on retiring after his 10th movie. This is a glimpse of how Storify looks like

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(To view the whole story, you can click here: https://storify.com/diversifylife/tarantino-s-middle-name-diversity

However, nothing compares to ThingLink. ThingLink is a website created to make things easier for anyone searching for information on any topic. What the website allows you to do is take any picture and explain its meaning by adding content. It allows to browse for content from complementary websites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Wikipedia or use any internet link for that matter. Once you choose an image (related to a topic), you can start tagging it with pictures, videos or webpages of your liking. You can also individualize the way the tags look and edit the post later on.

My first ThingLink attempted to focus on diversity and culture. Here is what it ended up being: thinglink

direct link to page here: https://www.thinglink.com/scene/589458654676123650

Purple is the warmest color.

Surely, upon encountering someone with blue hair, turned green, turned yellow and finally turned purple, you start wondering. Vibrant hair colors, as well as pixie hairstyles and unique fashion statements can be interpreted as attention seeking by some, fashionable by others and brave by most, but never as a way to break out of a shell.

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So, upon seeing Ralitsa, people perceive her as many things, but all those perceptions mostly stand in stark contrast with who she really is.

Rali is a junior at AUBG, majoring at Computer Science and Information Systems. She comes from Plovdid, Bulgaria and – for those who have the luck to actually know her – is extremely diverse in her hobbies and interests. These interests vary from “arts to crafts to hiking…” In AUBG, she is currently a member of the Medieval Club and Poi Spinning Club.

The problem, when it comes to Rali, is that most people don’t get to see the fascinating and enthralling part of her.

“Frankly, before I came to this university I used to live an extremely sheltered life. I always tell people that I sort of skipped my teenage years, which is the thing I regret the most. It had never bothered me until winter break of my first year when I had a breakdown.”

The ‘breakdown’, as she calls it, actually benefited her life more than destroyed it.She decided to relive her teenage years in college and started meeting people, creating relationships and establishing friendships. Now, for her, a life worth living is one where you never stop experiencing things…even when resources are limited, Rali believes there are ways too step out of our comfort zones. Sometimes, it’s hair colors. Other times, people and human relationship.

She admits that AUBG helped her, as many interviewees before her.

“That’s the time I truly came, no, BURST out of my shell. I didn’t really know how to communicate with people so it was incredibly weird at first but the others were kind enough to accept me as the quiet awkward person that I am.”

In these conditions, she made progress. In her weirdness and awkwardness, she found friends and strove to experience things she had previously limited herself in experiencing. Never forgetting the importance of everyday happiness, however, Rali taught me one of the most difficult things: finding diversity, in simplicity.

Life doesn’t stop.

I used to think of school breaks and summer vacations as life on stand-by, imagining that time disappears along with our responsibilities so we can enjoy life without rushing to meet deadlines. Here’s another thing you learn the hard way growing up – life doesn’t stop for anyone. And because this might be taking a very philosophical turn, I’m only mentioning it for practical reasons – I couldn’t allow the Fall Break to keep me from posting an interview now that I’m old enough to know that time is always running and there is always a story to tell.

For the Fall break I decided to make it easier for myself and interview a person I knew had a lot to share about diversity.

Petya Hristova is a sophomore at AUBG, majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and “hopefully Political Science.” The thing about Petya, she’s interested in everything – starting from University life to what Blagoevgrad has to offer; everything can excite her. She stood out on her freshman year when, bravely, she participated in AUBG’s Got Talent and performed ‘Black Velvet’ in front of an amazed jury and student body. It wasn’t hard for her to start writing, photographing and participating in school events only to stay open to possibilities…in order to stay out of the box.

“For me diversity is…imagine yourself being in a small box and all you can see is your reflection, in the mirrors within the box. Diversity is to finally get out of the box and stop seeing just yourself…understand there are different people with different beliefs, different lives…that do things you might have thought people shouldn’t do. But then again, you realize people do amazing stuff that never even passed your mind.” Continue reading