Beneath the Skin
Yesterday we were asked to appear as subjects / insiders for a media group called Emerge Network that will be coming into our village to create three short videos about our lives and the lives of the Akha in Mae Salong. We're very honored to help serve this team and are excited to see what stories these media-moguls-in-the-making decide to tell.
During our time at the Emerge Network training center, the program directors showed a number of pictures that they had taken while visiting Doi Mae Salong, while sharing the importance of discovering the story behind the images. As the pictures of scenery, daily life, children, and elders flashed across the screen I began to realize that I perceived each picture so differently than the 30 other people who I was in the room with.
When they saw bamboo huts, I saw my home. When they saw jungle and winding paths, I saw my neighborhood. When they saw cute kids, I saw their stories. When they saw headdresses and smiles, I saw the strong, endearing, hardworking characters of our village family.
Lori hit on this point a little when she wrote a post earlier this month about some photographer friends who came to visit. In her post she wrote "After looking at their pictures, we’re reminded how differently we take pictures now that we’ve been here for 5 years. For example, we NEVER take pictures of the chickens anymore because we’re so used to them, but they really are a very important part of the village ambiance!"
Shortly after we arrived in our village in 2005, we posted these photos sharing images of our village kids. Looking back now I see each of those kids very differently because I have laughed, cried and shared in their life stories. The best parallel I can draw to this experience is a comparison to a classroom. As a teacher (or student), during the first days of a new class or new school the people around you are a conglomerate unknown, a shapeless mass. Slowly names are learned and faces are distinguished, but it is not until experiences and stories are shared that those acquaintances become connections, community, and friends.
Now, many of our posts are stories. Individuals. Friends. This post was originally going to be a mass of photos, but I couldn't get myself to post just the images without the incredible stories that go beneath the skin (which is what excites me about this video team that is coming up this weekend). So, instead, I'm starting a new tag, called stories, where we will intentionally share more than just a face.
We hope that you all enjoy these glimpses into the lives of our Akha friends, because we truly love sharing our lives with them.