Telling my whole story- when many cultures make one voice

پکیج: TED Education / سرفصل: سخنرانی های دانش آموزان / درس 25

TED Education

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Telling my whole story- when many cultures make one voice

توضیح مختصر

Kayla Briet was raised in a multigenerational, multicultural home. Part Dutch-Indonesian, part Chinese, part Ojibwe, Kayla often felt like she was never "enough" of any one identity. At the same time, she felt a great responsibility to preserve the stories and traditions of her native ancestors. So as a student and storyteller Kayla taught herself music, filmmaking, dance, animation, and even virtual reality to try to find a way to capture and preserve her heritage while celebrating the many textures and harmonies that form our shared human experiences. Kayla gave this talk at TED-Ed Weekend in New York City. To learn more about TED-Ed Clubs or to start your own club, go to http-//

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Life’s like a galaxy floating amongst the sea of stars. Black holes try to reverse your course, You won’t let them stop you anyhow. Don’t be afraid to gather your voice. Don’t be nervous because in this society, we won’t hesitate to look away. Shield of a magnifying glass so all they see is half an image Oh, take cover, run down these stairs, and run as fast as you can. Run as fast as you can. Because it’s a journey, just you and me. Pack your bags and arrividerci. Don’t let nobody tell you otherwise. Wait until they see the world through your eyes. Painting pictures through your lenses nobody is understanding. And from your thoughts out pours a story one would have to learn to read. But don’t be easily swayed because your brilliance is seldom seen. It’s your self-fulfilled prophecy. It’s not easy trapped in a personal mythology. If I could look through the glass, would I ask if I could see what they see? But it’s a journey, just you and me. Pack your bags and arrividerci. Don’t let nobody tell you otherwise. Wait until they see the world through your eyes. Thank you so much. When I was four years old, my dad taught me the Taos Pueblo hoop dance, a traditional dance born hundreds of years ago in Southwestern USA. A series of hoops are constructed out of willow wood and they’re used to create formations of the natural world, showing the many beauties of life. In the dance, you’re circling in a constant spin, mimicking the movement of the sun and the passage of time. Watching this dance was magic to me. Like with a time capsule, I was taking a look through a cultural window to the past. I felt a deeper connection to how my ancestors looked at the world around them. And since then, I’ve always been obsessed with time capsules. They come in many forms, but the common thread is that they hold a portal to a memory, and they hold the important power of keeping stories alive. As a filmmaker and composer, it’s been my journey to find my voice, reclaim the stories of my heritage and the past, and infuse them together into music, film, and virtual reality time capsules to share. But first, I want to share a bit about how I grew up. In Southern California, I was raised in a multi-generational home, meaning I lived under the same roof as my parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. On my mother’s side, she’s Dutch Indonesian and Chinese with immigrant parents, and my father is Ojibwe and an enrolled tribal member of the prairie band Potawatomi tribe in Northeastern Kansas. So one weekend, I’d be learning how to fold dumplings and the next weekend, I’d be powwow dancing traditional style immersed in the powerful heartbeats of drums and singers. So being surrounded by so many cultures was the norm for me, but it was a really confusing experience. It was hard for me to find my own voice because I never felt I was ever enough. I was never Chinese enough, never Dutch Indonesian or Native enough, and because I never felt like I was a part of any singular community, I sought to learn the stories behind my heritage and connect them together to rediscover my own. And the first medium I felt gave me a voice was music. With layers of sounds and multiple instruments, I could create soundscapes and worlds that were much bigger than my own. And this right here is actually the setup that I have in my room. This instrument here is one of my favorites to play. It’s the Chinese Guzheng Zither, and I learned how to play it from online tutorials, and another thing I learned was that while the hoop dance is hundreds of years old, the Chinese Guzheng Zither has over 2,000 years of history. And I noticed an interesting connection. The Zither is tuned to the pentatonic scale, which is a scale found so universally within the world, and I noticed that native folk songs also carry with it the pentatonic scale. And in both Chinese and Native Folk, I sense the sound of yearning and longing for the past and this the sound that deeply inspires the music I create today. And at the time, I wondered if I could make this feeling of immersion even more powerful by layering images and visuals over the music. So I went back to online tutorials to learn editing software, and went to community college to save money and created films. After a couple years of experimenting, I was 17 and I had something that I wanted to tell and preserve, and it started with a question. What happens when a story is forgotten? I lead with this in my latest documentary film Smoke that Travels, which invites you into a world of song and dance as I explore my fear that a part of my heritage will be forgotten in time. As of right now, there are so many Indigenous languages dying due to historically forced assimilation. From the late 1800s to the early 1970s, Natives were forced into boarding schools where they were violently punished if they practiced traditional ways or spoke their native language, most of which were orally passed down. Right now, there are 567 federally recognised tribes in the United States when there used to be countless more. In my father’s words, being Native is not about the braids or the feathers and the bead work. Being Native is all about how we center ourselves in the world as human beings. After traveling with this film for over a year, I met Indigenous people from around the world, from the Ainu of Japan and the Sami of Scandanavia and many more who all were dealing with this exact same struggle, to preserve their language and culture. And I want to tell a quick story. Around that same time, I finished my first-ever tiny experiment with rotoscoping an animation technique. I traced over 112 frames from a video of a beautiful, fancy shawl dancer named Danielle Bear, and this is how it looked. So I posted this online, very tiny video, not expecting anything, just wanting to share it with my friends and family. And the next morning, unexpectedly, I woke up to hundreds and thousands of views and comments saying “Oh man, I want to bring my shawl back out and go back to the powwow,” or, “Oh, I miss dancing, I want to get back out there again.” And the most striking comment to me was someone who said, “I’ve never seen a fancy shawl dancer animated before, ever.” And prior to this, it never even occurred to me that there aren’t many traditional style dancers in animated form. They just don’t exist. And at this moment, I not only realized the power storytelling has to connect all of us as human beings, but the responsibility that comes with this power. It becomes incredibly dangerous when our stories are rewritten or ignored because when we are denied identity, we become invisible. And this concept is so important to me with new rising mediums, like virtual reality. In a medium so powerful where you could surround yourself and step into a new world and immerse yourself into these new perspectives, it’s so important that we have our identities and stories existing within them in the foundational era right now. And it’s also important for the creators themselves to be empowered to make these experiences just for the joy of storytelling. Right now, I’m exploring a young VR video game programmer’s cyberpunk musical adventure set in Tokyo, Japan. And I’m dreaming up this world in virtual reality room-scale, a diary filled with a treasure trove of objects, from a favorite toy to an old family trinket, 3-D scanned in from the real world, and when you pick up that object you could hear the very story behind it, just like a time capsule, again, like a window to the past. And I’m more fascinated with creating alternative realities that let us draw parallels to our own, rather than recreating the real world. Because all around us here, we’re all mixed, mixed backgrounds, mixed cultures, different hometowns, and whether we know it or not, whether we’re aware of it or not, we have so many stories and events in our lives and our histories that make up who we are today. And we’re all storytellers. Perhaps reclaiming our narratives and just listening to each other’s can create a portal that can transcend time itself.

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