In recent years we’ve expanded our partnerships outside the Middle East, primarily to North and sub-Saharan Africa. Last month we met with representatives from Viet Tan at our office in Portland, Oregon. This week Viet Tan brought StoryMaker to Singapore for a three-day workshop to train a cross-section of about 20 activists and citizen media makers.

For me the participants and Viet Tan’s goals are the most interesting aspects of the training. The participants may be citizen journalists, but many are expected to work as activists and advocates for democratic change. At most SWN workshops the participants typically have a homogenous goal, a unifying element. In the case of Viet Tan’s workshop, their aim is to support a broad swathe of Vietnamese citizens to learn to tell better stories.

This is an interesting distinction in Vietnam, because the only Vietnamese considered professional  “journalists” are those working for the State press agency. In Vietnam, unlike elsewhere in the world, individuals call themselves citizen journalists when they intend to act in similar capacity as independent journalists. One of the trainees in Singapore told that citizen journalists have access to stories not told by foreign press or Vietnamese state media.

Hạ Vũ, a self-described social activist, working with single mother says “I want to tell the story of single mothers in Vietnam, and how difficult it is living with very little support from the Communist government. And from that, we hope that we can have some advice from outsiders, so that we can help them how to have a better life in the future.”

We believe StoryMaker provides a great opportunity for journalists and activists in Vietnam, and are excited to see their stories. The project is getting attention within Vietnam’s media community. We’ll be sure to share stories as they appear.