Marika Gabriel Testimonial

Marika Gabriel University-of-Hyderabad.png Name: Marika Gabriel - SN School
Course: Department of Communication
Institution: University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad

"To effectively communicate, we must realise that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others."

At the very outset, I feel it necessary to let you know that a few days before three representatives of the #SocialSurfing Workshop came to my university, I felt an undying urge to let go of the social bracket/structure that I grew up in. We had witnessed a theatrical play by Tanmai Group called 'Colour Of Trans' which delved into the unfathomable discrimination of the transgender community in India. Ashamed of being on the side of the guilty party, I wanted desperately to shake the system to its roots and change it. This workshop provided me with a makeshift, temporary platform to do just that and ultimately triggered this life-altering move.

Three young adults, 2 women and a man, came to discuss the workings of their project with incredible fervour. Initially, I was lost within the webs of my mind, but their enthusiasm caught my attention. They essentially spoke of the influence of Social Media in the lives of the youth and how communication has evolved over the years – its importance growing rapidly in the age of technology today. As a communication student who intends to pursue a career in New Media, I connected to every word that they said.

After an hour of discussion and activities which focused on the importance of communication between people who work together (which was extremely insightful and methodically profound), they gave us our final exercise. This exercise was the trigger that I mentioned earlier. What they asked us to do was simple, but the way I looked at it was slightly different from my fellow classmates. We were divided into about 5 (or so) groups and asked to make a social media campaign on a 'relevant issue'. Immediately, I found myself charged. This was now my stage - my first baby step in a battle I HAD TO win. Brainstorming with my friends/teammates, we made a campaign for Facebook using the hashtag - #FTheG. We had noticed that when one signs up to join Facebook, the option of choosing gender is restricted to either 'Male' or 'Female' giving no room for an alternate choice. The hashtag ergo implied both – 'Fuck The Gender' & 'Free The Gender' depending on how one looks at it. The former spoke for the group of transgender who did not wish to associate themselves with either male or female, and the latter allows for a transgender to be free from having to choose, even if they do identify with one particular gender. This was primarily because we now seem to live in a society that reduces us to mere numbers, groups, segments, structures when we are essentially – as conscience driven human beings – made of so much more. I, a woman of today's divisive world, stand by that very belief. Therefore, our suggested options for the Facebook Signup were NOYB (None Of Your Business) and Transgender (which merged the biological symbol of male and female) along with the previous options. We ended up winning the contest in our state of Telangana and it was a big moment of triumph for me as I felt a great sense of pride and fulfilment in carrying it out. It was a feeling like never before, and for that experience, I am extremely grateful.

I'd like to give you reasons to choose me as your candidate for the trip to America, but I'd rather just let you know that this workshop was a driving force, pushing me to pursue what I believe in, highlighting the colossal importance of communication, new media and largely, the freedom to express oneself. The workshop happened many months ago, but the memory of it and the immense gratitude I had for this project stay with me till today. I find myself '#SocialSurfing' to do good in this constantly evolving field and world at large. It was in this very workshop that I finally understood the importance and brilliance of the quote that I read the day I chose communication as my subject of study - "You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get them across, your ideas won't get you anywhere." For truer words couldn't have been spoken when someone said "We don't have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it!" and I, personally intend to ace it!

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