Annie Preis was a 2007-2008 PiA fellow at Khon Kaen University in Thailand and a fellow at the Peace Resource Center in Aceh, Indonesia in 2008-2009.
Annie conducted a storytelling project based in Indonesia, serving the communities of Aceh Tengah and Aceh Besar, both of which were devastated by the 2004 tsunami and heavily impacted by decades of civil conflict. Annie conducted workshops in storytelling, public speaking, and communications skills for local Acehnese women leaders. She also captured the oral histories and poignant stories of Acehnese women — many of whom were speaking in public for the first time in their lives.
In the first phase of her project, Annie and her Indonesian co-trainer worked to train and produce storytelling performances of twenty women in the conflict-affected highlands of Aceh, and in the next phase trained 20 more women leaders in another area affected by both the conflict and the tsunami. By sharing their stories and building their communication skills, women leaders were able to better ensure that their voices were heard by a society where women are underrepresented in the public sphere.
Annie writes, "When I first came to Banda Aceh for my PiA post I was floored again and again by the passion and dedication of women leaders who wanted to make their voices heard as Aceh rebuilt itself after the devastation of the tsunami and civil war. As a Carriebright fellow, I am now able to work directly with these women and support their grassroots work."
To listen to Annie's podcast, click here.
The Carriebright was an incredible opportunity to stay in a community I cared deeply about, work with inspirational people I had met over the course of my original PiA post in Aceh, and leave with a sense that I had done some good. Of course, as much as I believe that I contributed something valuable to Acehnese communities by training women leaders to speak publicly about issues they care about with confidence, I know that I got exponentially more out of it myself. I learned a huge amount about advocacy and effective training from the women activists I worked with. I learned the practical skills of planning and managing a community project and its budget. But the aspect of my Carriebright experience that I know will truly stay with me throughout my life is the knowledge I now have that it is possible -- in a relatively short time -- to transform crosscultural conversations about inequities observed and experienced into action.