Voices Beyond Walls is a participatory media initiative that supports creative expression and human rights advocacy among impoverished youth through digital storytelling workshops, new media production, and global dissemination of their work.
The program has been conducted thus far by local and international volunteers in partnership with youth centers in Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank. In the future we hope to expand the program in other critical international settings and inner-city neighborhoods, supporting civic engagement and empowering the voices of youth through digital media.
Voices Beyond Walls is organized by a collective of independent Palestinian and international media technologists, filmmakers, photographers, educators, and activists.
Digital Storytelling Workshops
The Voices Beyond Walls initiative was founded in 2006, when pilot digital media and storytelling workshops were first conducted in the Balata and Jenin refugee camps in the West Bank. Since then we have established a team of local and international volunteers who have conducted nearly a dozen workshops in six different refugee camps in collaboration with youth centers and young participants aged 10-16 years. In each 7-10 day workshop a team of trainers works closely with 20-25 youth from the camps in small groups to produce digital media shorts.
Weaving together original stories, drama, poetry, photography, music, and digital video these youth express their own perspectives on Palestinian history, culture and everyday life in the refugee camps, as well as their dreams and aspirations. Thus far nearly 60 digital media shorts have been produced by youth in these workshops, many of which have been screened locally and internationally.
The initiative partners closely with Palestinian youth/community organizations including the Freedom Theater in Jenin Camp (Jenin), the Yafa Cultural Center in Balata Camp (Nablus), the Computer Clubhouse in Ramallah, the Lajee Center in Aida Camp (Bethlehem), and the Women and Child Centers in Shu’fat Camp (East Jerusalem).
Training of Trainers
Voices Beyond Walls established a Training of Trainers (ToT) program in the spring of 2008 with young adults (university students and volunteers aged 18-25) from refugee camps including Jenin, Balata, Al-Farrah, Jalazon, Al-Amari, and Qalandiya. These trainers assisted as facilitators of digital storytelling workshops conducted in summer 2008. This training program will be expanded to include more participants and a professional training staff, along with comprehensive curricula in new media production and pedagogy.
Screening Youth Media
Each year, Voices Beyond Walls holds screenings and exhibitions of the work emerging from these workshops throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as at universities and festivals in the United States and abroad.
The First Palestine Youth Media Festival, showcasing a selection of video shorts from workshops conducted in summer 2008, was held at the Ramallah Cultural Palace in Ramallah, West Bank on August 23rd, 2008 in cooperation with the Ramallah Municipality and the Al-Qattan Foundation. A selection of photography and video shorts from 2008 was also screened at the 2nd Annual Boston Palestine Film Festival on October 8th, 2008.