A picture speaks a thousand words

By Karabo Moruakgomo   -  By Emma Bird

"When I came to Bristol I saw a lot of people being victims to racism, including my mum. She was a victim but she fought back and I wanted to do the same

Communication is a powerful weapon in the world – just talking to other people. That’s how positive relationships will start. We wanted our project to communicate to people.

As individuals we can teach and we can educate one another about our culture, about our religion, about where we come from. That’s all that people need – to be educated and to be taught to not judge a book by its cover.

There were 6 of us to start with but then something went wrong and the group fell apart and it was just the 3 of us. We thought we wouldn’t get through our project but Adam [Envision Co-ordinator] kept pushing us so we just kept on fighting through the problems.

At first we were kind of stuck as we tried to learn how to work independently. But then we started to give ourselves each a job and every Friday we’d meet up with our ideas and to talk about what we’d done that week.

A picture can tell 1000 words, that’s why we decided on doing photography project with pictures that challenged ideas about race, religion and gender. We went to see the Arnol Fini gallery and they gave us amazing advice on photography and how to capture a story or an idea, which was really helpful when we were planning our photos. They also offered to let us exhibit our photos in the gallery.

We went around Bristol and took lots of pictures and after we’d shared all the photos we decided which ones we could afford to print with the budget we had.

I came up with a photo called “Different on the outside, same on the inside”.  We may be white, Asian, ginger hair or Somalian, but it’s just camouflage. If someone takes away that camouflage we will see the same skeletal system underneath. No matter where you’re from, no matter who you are you are and I are the same on the inside

Our photos were on exhibition in the Arnol Fini for 2 days. When I came into the gallery for the first time I felt supreme! Loads of people came to see it from school and friends and even the Mayor of Bristol.

When we got back to school the teachers we’re quite proud of us and they gave us good feedback because we were actually representing our school. They came to us personally and they said ‘nice work’ and they also gave us the opportunity to show off our photos at school as well.

When I saw our work in the newspaper that’s when I thought ‘this feels big’. When I reached home I wanted to show my mum. She was like, 'wow, well done , I’m proud of you'. Then I went on to Google and there I was –wow I’m on Google now as well.

Our Envision group was so mixed. I’m from South Africa and the others were from Bangladesh, India, Somalia, Poland, England, Philippines, East Timor and Jamaica. We were all kinds of religion as well; Christian, Catholic, Muslim and Sikh, Hindu.

I think it was important that our team had variety and different lives, different stories and different experiences to bring and share. You can research about another religion or race but it’s not the same as talking to someone who has experienced it, a person who actually is from that place who can say it out loud.

Envision has given me a different experience to school. It’s somewhere you can express yourself and you are given the chance to express yourself. School is more about books and computer screens but you don’t get a chance to express yourself through any other means. When you come to Envision you get to express yourself through what you’re passionate about.

I learned quite a lot of things I didn’t know before. I learned about Halaal food and I learned about cultural traditions and what it means to be a Muslim.  I feel more comfortable now I understand these cultures better.

My confidence level has gone up as well. I feel more free to speak my mind. I became more mature and became more professional and I met a lot of fantastic people."