After the terrorist attacks in Paris Linda from Go Live & Become and I found ourselves really shocked and confused about the future of our country. She is French with Algerian roots and I am French-Japanese and we both have been far from home for a long time but it didn’t matter when we heard the news. We both cried.
For Linda, beyond the shock and the terror caused by the attacks, they had important implications for her family back home. Everyone fears the backlash against the Muslim community, a rise of racism and growing chaos but Linda is worried about her mother back home. A good, honest and hard working women who managed to raise her children wonderfully regardless of the political temperature and the level of social openness in the country.
I asked Linda to share her story because she is one of the millions French with a Muslim background who contribute to the cultural vitality and the international standing of France today. She has a beautiful story to share on open-mindedness, global citizenship and the power of love to overcome differences.
When you have a minute, check her photos gallery. She has traveled around the globe and generously shares stories and beauty from the world with us.
So Linda, please tell us who you are in a few words
I am a young French woman with an Algerian background. I grew up constantly jumping from one culture to the other: the French secular one outside home and the Algerian Muslim one at home. There were 9 kids at home so hard discipline was essential for my parents‘ survival (as well as ours!) and religion offered them this regulation. However, what was right outside was not necessarily right inside and reciprocally. Yet, I had to understand and master both set of rules. It was actually the best training I could have wished for to be prepared for my current world vagabond life. We must adapt to many cultures when traveling. My parents gave me the choice and encouraged me to pursue higher education in order to gain independence. For them I would only leave home to get married or to pursue my studies. I left home at 18 to go to University and self-funded my studies and expenses thanks to various student side jobs.
What are the main drivers behind your desire to leave France and travel the world?
I was lucky to go on my first trip at the age of 16, thanks to a very good friend (Carole) who managed to gather the money for both her trip and mine (as my parents could not afford such expenses). We traveled together to India for a month. This trip has changed my life forever. I realized I was meant to live differently. I will eternally be thankful to her.
I used my studies as an excuse to move overseas for good as I was too scared to take that first step without a safety net at first. I first chose to learn Chinese with the intention to go to China and went shortly after. I then chose an International Business School with the intention to live and study abroad and moved to Singapore shortly after. I then managed to find an internship in Australia to close my studies. From then, I have never stopped moving around and discovering the world! I have visited more than 30 countries and 5 continents.
During my trips, I started having an urge to see new things every day, I developed an addiction to communicate with people regardless of my ability to speak the same language as they do, and a craving for learning more from every single human being I have the chance to interact with. The people I have met have shaped and will continue to shape who I am.
I realized at some point that something was missing though; I could not keep these unique moments and experiences for myself. I had to share them. This is how Go, Live and Become was born. I cannot be more fulfilled. I have the chance to travel extensively, and capturing precious moments and amazing people’s image with my camera is something that I am passionate about.
Would you see yourself going back to live in France?
I have lived incredible experiences that I would never have experienced if I had stayed in France. I have become a nomad. I get restless if I stay too long in the same place. Long story short, I would not see myself going back to France or settle down anywhere else in the world at this point. Let’s wait and see where this lifestyle will take me!
What are you trying to achieve with your art?
The only thing I want through GLB is to share my vision of the world. I shoot with a pretty basic camera. I never ask people to pose for me; they are all people I shared moments with. I don’t take a photo if they are not aware that I will. I want to capture authentic moments with genuine emotions.
My main purpose is to let people see the world the way I see it: fascinating, stunning, appealing, amazing! I dream about people being tolerant and not judgmental, united and not individualistic and realizing that we can thrive on differences but not on fear.
I have two projects coming up for Go, Live and Become.
The first one is to buy a portable printer in order to give to the people who shared their image with me the right to own first their picture. Most of the people I have photographed live in remote villages and have never possessed a picture of themselves before.
The second project is a fund-raiser. I would like to give at least half of the money earned from my photos to the people I took pictures of.
Are you surprised that terrorists are attacking France vs. other countries?
If by terrorists, you mean ISIS, they did attack other countries: Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Syria itself, Yemen, Tunisia, Libya and many others. The difference is that we did not hear as much about these cases as we did for France, which is what surprises me. I am French, I am shocked and sad but I am human above all. The importance we give to these events shouldn’t be based on the level of coverage media decide to provide.
Have you ever felt tensions surrounding France’s Muslim community?
Before Charlie Hebdo attacks, I never really felt racism in France. Never. This year, when I went back to visit my family, I honestly witnessed a huge difference especially when I was out for a walk with my mother (who by the way wears the hijab). I thought I was paranoid at the beginning so I tried to contain myself. I realized I was not when in most of the shops, the security agents were asking to check by bag in and out all over again (which never happened before), when a woman directly insulted my mother or when people were staring at her in the street with an unfriendly look.
I was so angry. This anger turned into disappointment. I was very vocal about my opinion on the turn this world was taking and on how angry I was about it. It was too much energy wasted. At some point, I did not want to go out at all. And then I decided to fight in a different way by showing that Muslims are NOT narrow-minded. As Mary Quant in the 60’s, I did my own mini skirt revolution. So every time I was going out with my mother people could see a fervent Muslim walking with her mini-skirted daughter right next to her. It might sound silly, but it worked… No one checked my bag anymore and looks were more curious than judgmental.
Do you fear for the Muslims of France after Nov 13th events?
When I heard about what happened, I cried. I cried for Paris. I cried for France. I cried for the world. I then thought about my last experience in France and the repercussions of such events on an entire innocent community. I thought of my family, I even panicked. I don’t know what the reality is there. I have a strong family, they will never tell me they suffer if they do. From Japan, where I am based for the time being and through international Media and Social Media, it seems that the majority of the world is looking for peace and wants to spread love. I have faith in humanity. I have faith in this world.
Your advice to French people for the coming months?
France is a multicultural country. We have the chance to be an example for the whole world. Freedom, Equality, Fraternity is the French National motto. Being proud to be French is being proud to embrace this diversity.
Stop being worried about your neighbors because of their looks or beliefs, just talk to them. The first time is the hardest, not because they are “different” from you, rather because we live in an individualistic and crowded world and we have lost this habit of interacting with each other.
Fear is a natural protection mechanism against the unknown. The first kiss, the first day at school, the first trip, the first time we drive a car…all were scary because we heard of it but never experienced it first hand. We tend to imagine the worst but then realize how good some of these experiences are. Every time you get a chance to interact with people, go pass beyond the fear and reach out. Most of time, you won’t regret it.
Love is and will always be the answer.
Thank you for sharing your story and please continue to share wonders and beauty on your photo blog !