by Simone Genetin, UWC Dilijan Alumnus
10th September, 2019
We, UWCers, are lucky people. We have been given the opportunity to connect with outstanding individuals from all over the world, getting to know so much about it in such a short period of time. No other place in the world can boast such thing.
As I graduated and left UWC Dilijan, I started understanding how valuable it really was, to go to the canteen in pajamas on a Saturday morning and be able to discuss about global issues with the people who were directly involved in them. I reflected on how extraordinary some relationships between students and with the host country were. I witnessed Turkish people participating in manifestations for the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, Iranian and US citizens becoming roommates and Palestinians having an open dicussion with Israelis about their conflict.
If the UWC movement stands for something, that must be the realisation of what makes such things possible and the willingness to permeate our societies with such behaviour, in a world where xenofobia increases day by day.
I believe what is common to these acts of humanity between students is the desire to have an unfiltered communication with each other and an empathetic understanding of the other. If these qualities, which are rare but developable, were shared by a larger part of the world community, it is clear that we would live in a more inclusive and understanding society. In other words, a better society.
People develop a particular sense of understanding when they are exposed to stories from those who lived them, much more intensely than when they are exposed to any statistic. It is intrinsic to our human nature to be somewhat empathetic, and this is why we believe genuine human experiences are so powerful in spreading awareness regarding global issues. For this reason, on stehind.com you will only read stories written from people who have directly experienced what they are sharing.
We believe that this is the most accurate and efficient way to share the benefits of a close international community like ours, to those who do not have access to one.
But this is not all. Sharing stories to create a more empathetic and understanding world is only a small part of what Stehind has set itself to achieve. We use stories as a tool to address four specific problems that characterise mass media nowadays:
Firstly, the media imperialism that permeates our world through the filtration of international news. Following a pattern of prioritisation of affairs that are economically relevant to the country publishing, they leave out a tremendous amount of news which are instead of human concern. Small and third world countries are negatively affected by this, often being presented through numerous biases and with a pejorative connotation. We use to say “Western media make of one murder a tragedy, while of a massacre a statistic”: this is the mirror reflection of a flawed system that is only able to showcase news with a subjective system of hierarchisation, compromising the audience’s ability to choose by themselves. Traditional media place heavy importance on neighbouring states or economical partners, cutting down on words and time slots used for other parts of the world. This makes it even harder for people from around the globe to understand what is happening on the other side of it, and most importantly to do so in an accurate way. There is no one to blame for this: in the end, they are only aimed at citizens of particular countries.
Stehind aspires to break these barriers and biases that jeopardise our ability to immerse ourselves in what other people are living in different parts of the world. By allowing everyone to send their own stories, we are constructing a platform that can finally give an all-round image to what we hear, or don’t, on mass media: a face, a name, a story. Most importantly, Stehind gives equal importance to all regions of the world, stepping down from any form of prioritisation based on economic and political relevance. It wants to start a system on which the audience has complete freedom upon the decision of which story to read.
News are usually mostly dedicated to negative happenings, and developing and third world countries never shine on western media: yet, good things happen everywhere. Stehind attempts to change this pattern, giving equal space to positive and negative stories, allowing everyone to have an opportunity to show that there is some good in every place and community.
Lastly, Stehind wants to go big. We believe that the power of this platform lies in everyone of us, people who will read it and who will write on it. Having the aim of becoming a global community with writers all across the world, this forum stores a vast potential of reaching an excitingly large group of diverse societies, that naturally becomes an opportunity to effectively and positively influence a massive audience.
To achieve that, we are hoping to receive help from the community that has prompted us to strive for a positive change in the first place: the United World Colleges community.
Many of us are aware of issues which deserve more attention on the international stage. Many of us believe in ideas which need help to be fully developed and many of us have past experiences which, if shared, can shape other people to be better individuals.
If you believe in this project, if you like the idea or if you have something valuable to say to the world, become part of it. No matter how big of a contribution you can give, join us to become part of a community of dedicated people who strive for this dream to become reality, and inspire other people to make a positive change in their communities.
Together, let’s shape a world more aware of what the world is.
The Flying Dutchman team consists of UWC students aiming to reflect the news relevant to the people engaged with the UWC movement.