Bill O’Toole has been in Southeast Asia since 2011, when he served as a PiA teaching fellow in Chiang Rai, Thailand. He completed his second year fellowship in Yangon at the Myanmar Times, where he has worked as a reporter for almost three years. Currently, Bill is a Journalism and Film Studies instructor at the Chin Institute of Social Sciences (CISS) in western Myanmar.
As a Carriebright fellow, Bill will work with CISS journalism students to record and produce an online archive of the endangered oral traditions of the various Chin tribes in western Myanmar. S.O.S. aims to create a video archive of the myths, histories, jokes, and songs that make up the rich oral tradition of the Chin peoples.
Since time immemorial, the various tribes that populate the region have relied on the spoken word to pass down their culture and heritage. Decades of neglect and outright hostility from the central government, including the outlawing of teaching in Chin dialects in all schools, has greatly stunted and endangered these oral traditions. S.O.S. aims to preserve these rich and diverse storytelling traditions on a web archive that will be available both in the partner villages and on the wider internet.
Bill will first train a group of students in shooting and editing of documentary films and will then manage smaller teams as they fan out across the state to visit rural communities and record their stories. The first videos will be available in early spring, 2016.