Ambassador Richard Mills Remarks at #BridgingStories Exhibit Opening

#BridgingStories Exhibit Connects Armenian and Turkish Photographers through Shared Stories

As prepared

Barev dzez, merhaba, and hello to the Armenian and Turkish photographers who created the works featured in the exhibit we are opening today, to their mentors and trainers – John Stanmeyer, Anush Babajanyan, and Serra Akcan  – and to our guests. Thank you for joining us here today as we open this moving and unique exhibit.

This exhibit has been in the works for almost a year, and has been a labor of love for everyone involved in the project: from John, Anush, and Serra, who led the project and guided these young photographers as the project grew and took on a life of its own, to each and every one of the talented photojournalists who have created such stirring images. We see in today’s exhibit the fruit of their labors, and of their unwavering commitment and belief in the power of photography to build connections between peoples.

As we visit the exhibit and view the photos, the hard work, dedication, passion, and artistic sensibilities that created them shine through. Through their works, each of the photographs invites us into their communities and provides glimpses into their lives, helping us all to connect and understand one another a little better. That is why the title of this exhibit, “Bridging Stories,” is so fitting. Each one of these photos tells a personal story about the individual who took it, and about the larger community in which it was taken.

What makes this exhibit so compelling is the emphasis on the common life stories and experiences that we share, based on the fundamental premise that what connects us is greater than what divides us. It is powerful and inspiring to see how this project is building bridges between our talented participants from Armenia and Turkey, and among their audiences, whether they visit the exhibit in person or follow the project online at the #BridgingStories Instagram page. I feel privileged to be able to view the exhibit in person today, and to step out and join these young photojournalists on the bridge they have created.

John, I’d like to invite you to say a few worlds and hear about the project from your perspective.