Why Your Voice Is Important Essay

Many people often don’t realize the importance of getting their voice heard. As members of a global society, we have the right to speak our minds and talk freely about topics that concern and interest us. This is very important, but many people don’t understand why. It is crucial to participate, in whatever way that means to you. Get your voice heard by participating and participate by sharing your voice.

Why should you make your voice heard?

Human societies are inherently unjust.  You have the power of freedom of speech and you should use it to make a difference. It takes guts to stand up and speak – whether in person or on paper. No matter the topic, it is difficult. Most people prefer to take a back seat approach to speaking up and getting their voices heard, hoping others will do the work for them. This isn’t necessarily due to negligence, ignorance or laziness, but most people just prefer to focus on their personal lives, rather than take on too many exterior responsibilities through involvement in affairs that don’t directly concern them. They may be afraid of hurting another person, looking mean or foolish, or talking about sensitive information. Some other people don’t believe their lives are worthy of sharing. Sometimes it seems like staying silent is the wiser choice. All of these thoughts couldn’t be farther from the truth.

What are the benefits of sharing your story with an organization like Albanian Voices?

First of all, you can make a change. It might sound cliché, but it is true. By telling people how you feel about an important issue, whether it be a social, historical or political one can lead to great things. The persuasiveness of a voice can bring about huge changes.

Silence is seen as passive approval. You may think that staying silent keeps you from being involved in any conflict, but actually the opposite is true. Silence is as much an active form of communication as talking. If you disapprove and don’t say anything, you are just enabling the situation to continue. If the problem persists and you did nothing, people may consider it as much your fault as the person who actually caused the problem. By staying silent, you may be harming the very people you hope to help. Speaking up is an important form of honesty.

You can’t assume the obvious is obvious. Your experience and knowledge has value in a given situation.  That doesn’t mean that everything in your brain is worth communicating, but in most situations your opinion will matter. Honestly, you aren’t doing yourself any favors by not sharing your expertise because people don’t automatically recognize your skills, values, ambitions, and desires when you are quiet. If you wait around for people to notice you, you’ll just end up with projects you don’t want, missing promotions you do, or accepting tasks you don’t have time or ability to complete. Gather up your confidence and share.

Another reason to make your voice heard is that you can meet and connect with like-minded people. You may not be alone in your thinking. It’s entirely possible that your insightful observations and conclusions have surfaced in the minds of others. By submitting a story about your life, you encourage other people who share your same interests or concerns to reach out to you. Others may share your thoughts and opinions, but may be also unwilling to speak up. By speaking your mind you encourage them to voice their opinions as well.

By voicing your opinion, or telling someone about your life, you will undoubtedly improve your own ability to speak or write about that topic. Speaking in public, or just even among friends will boost your confidence and your ability to hold your own in a debate. It’s always hard to try and stand up in public and convince others of what you believe in, but keeping your communication skills sharp will give you a confidence boost so that you can share your views with others, and possibly even sway them to join your cause!

Why write?

Writing is both an essential part of the learning process and one of the most important ways that historians communicate their ideas and conclusions to one another. The act of writing forces you to take your knowledge of a subject and other information that is available to you on that subject and organize it all into a coherent and concise presentation. Additionally, when you argue something in print, you must convince your reader of the validity of your argument through clear text, rather than with emotional or eloquent speech. Many contacts in your professional life will judge you and your work based on your writing. Whatever career path you select, you will have to write letters, reports, applications for funding, speeches, proposals and even books that others will read before they ever speak to you personally. These individuals will develop their first and often most lasting impression of you based upon your writing skills.

How can you do it with Albanian Voices?

If you want to make your voice heard with Albanian Voices, you have three choices:

  • You can write something and ask us to edit it. We will work with you on your writing piece until you are satisfied with it.
  • You can submit writing that does not need editing and we will publish it exactly as you sent it.
  • You can sign up to be interviewed by us and we will transcribe this interview for Albanian Voices as oral history.

However you decide to get your voice heard, you will make a difference. Most importantly, getting your voice heard can create irreplaceable bonds between you, your family and your community. Getting involved in representing the Albanian community through text or by making public speeches will improve your ability to persuade others and construct a well informed argument, all of which could come in handy especially when applying for jobs, as these are skills that employers are particularly interested in.

If you are interested in either writing or being interviewed for Albanian Voices, please send an email to albanianvoices@gmail.com.

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I am a junior now. And when I look out at the real world on the horizon, it’s decorated with ominous clouds.

You see, this is the first time on this trip through life that I haven’t had a map to follow. So far, I’ve just had to pass my classes. First grade led to second, and high school graduation led to college convocation. But where will college graduation lead? My dad often asks, “How’s that internship hunt going?” My friends innocently ask, “What are your summer plans?”

These questions, inserted into conversations as friendly filler, are starting to give me a constant case of clammy hands and panicky gut. I dream of becoming a respected journalist, but I’m in serious need of directions. I have no idea what my next step is, but I have a hunch it’s supposed to be remarkable.

The source of this feeling must be something in the water at Mount Holyoke, the result of a steady drizzle of pioneer propaganda. The mantra of greatness reverberates through my professors, peers, admission pamphlets, and even President Pasquerella. My writing professors believe that words can change the world. My adviser calls journalists “professors to the people,” making knowledge accessible to the masses. These truths are her religion, and I am a convert. Scanning the state of today’s media, how could I not go into journalism?

So, as I contemplate deadlines for internships with NPR, the New York Times, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the New Yorker, and Ms. magazine, I panic. “Maybe I’ll just go to bartending school after college,” I muse, half-kidding. “Hanging out at the bar worked for Hemingway, right?” The idea makes my dad nervous and confuses my friends.

My dad is comforted by my econ major: “You could always go into business, sweetie. My company values good writers,” he tells me. This idea bores me to death. A career in the corporate world seems so unremarkable, so common. Doesn’t he know Mount Holyoke women must be uncommon? An english major is supposed to be an award-winning novelist, the voice of her generation. A film major will be a fearless documentarian. A biology major will work for Doctors without Borders…or cure cancer. But what if a student wants to go into PR, international business, or private-practice medicine? What if she wants to be a parent or a volunteer?

I get the impression that my dear, soon-to-be alma mater is nurturing me to bloom in the direction of nonprofit work and starving artistry. On the one hand, this is fine, because I want to be a starving artist…well, a starving writer, really. The job market for writers is bleak, though if by some miracle I do become a pulitzer prize–winning journalist, I will be published and applauded. But what if I fail? At times, this feels so frightening that I can’t even write a cover letter, fill out an application, or work on my résumé.

Yet, I am slowly learning to accept this expectation to accomplish great things. Although it stresses me out, the pressure also inspires me. In a year and a half, I will be catapulted out of this ornate academic bubble. The bill-paying, food-on-the-table demands of the real world may initially knock me flat on my back, but I’m going to get up and do everything I can to save the world.

By Olivia Lammel ’14

This article appeared in the spring 2013 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.

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