On November 20th, I was in my apartment sitting in front of my computer writing a story for an audio assignment. My phone –sitting on my left- was ringing. It was an unknown number. Honestly, I thought it was one of those scam calls but I decided to answer it anyway.
“Fee-kah, is that how you pronounce your name?”
It definitely was not a bot. It was a woman. She told me her name was Bryanna from International Student. I immediately stopped looking at my computer and paid attention to her. and She asked if I had received any email from International Student to which I didn’t as I mistakenly gave them my inactive email. She asked if I was available to join a Zoom call at 11 a.m (which at the time it was 10:30am) as she was going to announce the winner of the TVC: Life After Lockdown video competition. And obviously, I said yes.
I was feeling nervous and excited at the same time. I entered the Zoom call at exactly 11 am but right when I entered, my Zoom crashed! I tried troubleshooting my Zoom for almost 20 minutes and it finally worked but I was too late. The meeting had ended. I thought to myself, “Well, you just blew your chance Fiqah.”
But moments later, they reached out to me.
The first thing they asked was “What was the inspiration for my video?”
I answered: “ I wanted to share the light during this unprecedented time. COVID-19 has restricted our freedom and we have been consumed with negativity. This is true especially with George Floyd’s tragic death on May 25th this year. I met so many people who had lost hope in the world and those negativity overwhelmed me. But George Floyd didn’t die in vain, he empowered people to fight against injustice. It empowered me. I began protesting for the first time and I am not an American. I am from Brunei, a country that not a lot of people know. In Brunei, conversations about racism or any discrimination is nonexistent. As a woman of color from Brunei, this video is created as a tribute to George Floyd as well. His death sparked conversations, not just in the US but also in countries that wouldn’t dare to talk about discriminations and that is my country. For the first time ever, I finally feel relieved that there are people who experienced what I experienced over the past 28 years as a colored person from Brunei. I feel like my voice is finally heard and I owe it all to George Floyd.”
Immediately after that, they told me that I was the Grand Prize winner. I was dumbfounded and speechless. I didn’t expect it at all. It felt so surreal that I had to ask them a couple of times if it was real. I was tearing with joy because I put all my heart into that video. I had no intention of winning. I actually wanted to spread this message across and my friend from NYU Journalism recommended me to give this competition a try.
The experience itself is truly humbling. It made me realize that I made the right choice to pursue my masters in journalism. The fact that I won, it just makes me believe that I can create more powerful and inspiring stories to share to the whole world after I graduate this December, 2020. I am excited to see what the future will hold for me.
Being a Fulbright scholar, I am glad to be given the opportunity to be in this path. At the moment, I am applying for my Academic Training that allows me to work for 18 months in hopes to gain proper training in film production in NYC. I hope that my application for the training is approved because I am in NYC! One of the best cities for creative work and stories.