By Mariam Abdel-Akher
Growing up in Ottawa, Canada, the capital city that the world never seems to know, or
seems to forget, I noticed the rigid nature of politics surrounded my small city life. So,
when I studied a Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University, it was difficult to focus
my writing on topics I was passionate about – which was definitely not politics. By my
final year, I realized multimedia stories were my passion, where visual and audio-based
creativity were at the forefront. I noticed I could invoke emotion with the audio stories I
produced and give a voice to the voiceless, which I found a very powerful form of
storytelling. After I graduated from my undergraduate in December 2020, I pursued
work at the Government of Canada, where I worked in corporate communications. I
found myself underwhelmed by the work I was doing, finding it difficult to understand the
bureaucratic jargon, and eventually realized it may not be the best fit for me. Finally, the
focus then became on pursuing work around development and social issues after I
spent some time in Arusha, Tanzania working with an NGO called Farm Radio
International (FRI). This is where my passion for media development and media for
development flourished and sparked a dedication in me I was lacking when studying my
Photo by Jacob Meissner on Unsplash
This is what brought me here to the United Kingdom, where I’m now studying my
Masters of Media Practice for Social Change and Development at the University of
Sussex, the top school for development studies in the world. Through this, I was given
the opportunity to intern at Podium.me, a space of audio-based creativity, where social issues are at the forefront. Podium.me will create a space for me to tell the stories I’ve always wanted to tell.
My goal for the future is to create a space of opportunity through creative storytelling for
marginalized people to tell their stories around the world. I believe communication and
how we disseminate this information is powerful, and can change lives in the process. I
once met a female farmer while working in Tanzania, and despite challenged of being
told she could never own her own farm in her community, utilized targeted radio
communications to gather information about building a successful agricultural business.
She now owns one of the most profitable chicken farms in her community, building the
entire business on her own.
These progressive stories are important to me. As an intern at Podium.me, I know I will
be given the opportunities to tell these incredible anecdotes through an audio format.
Throughout my placement, I will be working on a podcast episode in relation to financial
literacy for youth in Southern England, specifically focusing on youth in Brighton and
London – two of the most expensive cities in the United Kingdom. I am excited for this
production to be solutions-based, a token of Podium.me, and providing chances to
young adults to learn more about saving, investing, spending and more. This is an
exciting chance for me to finally produce work I am passionate about and that makes a
difference in other people’s lives with Podium.me.