There’s a new generation of young, energetic, and talented Liberians at home and in the diaspora, who are actively involved in projects seeking to highlight Liberia and Liberians in a positive light. Adrienne Tingba is one of the those individuals who’s doing her part in providing good representation for Liberians through her blog The Colloqua Dialogues. Adrienne immigrated to the U.S in 2005, and now attends Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, where she serves as the current President of a student organization, The Society of Emerging African Leaders (SEAL). The 21-year-old Blogger, Writer, Storyteller and Model has interviewed notable Liberians for her blog’s “Voices of Liberia” series. In this interview with Fufu and Soup Mag, Adrienne discusses Liberia, her work, her upcoming writing workshop in Liberia, and more.
What inspired you to start The Colloqua Dialogues?
I felt that there is a need for Liberian representation. Too often I hear of all that is wrong with Liberia and Liberians, so I decided to create a platform to tell our stories, and discuss our problems with hopes of finding solutions, and inspiring other Liberians to find solutions. Through The Colloqua Dialogues, I began the Voices of Liberia series, which is a series of interviews of Liberians in Liberia, and around the world. I believe that in order for us to move on, we have to understand our history and try to learn from it. Through Voices of Liberia, I am telling our stories as Liberians, and showing the world that we too have something of substance to offer. That we are not just conflict, hunger, corruption, or any of the negative perceptions associated with us. I want to show the world that Liberia is worth paying attention to, and that our voices deserve to matter.
How do you hope to inspire other Liberian youth with your work?
I feel like there isn’t much representation of us out there in a positive light. Even our own people don’t believe in us, so it’s difficult for us to believe in each other, or even in ourselves. This is what I want my work to tackle. That belief in each other and in ourselves as the youth. I want to put myself and other young Liberian leaders out there to show that we are worth believing in, and investing in. I hope that by sharing my story and my work, I can inspire my peers and help us move away from the negative perceptions.
Where do you plan on taking your blog?
I definitely plan to expand the Voices of Liberia series for now. As for my longterm goal, I want to promote investment in Liberia. There are many opportunities available for both foreign and domestic investment, and I want to The Colloqua Dialogues to aid in bringing light to those opportunities. When I first started, I really didn’t know where I was going with the blog. I definitely didn’t think it would take off as fast it has, but I’m grateful that it has, so we’ll see what else I come up with.
Can you tell us about your upcoming workshop in Liberia
Low literacy rates and the inability to write is a foundational issue in Liberia. In efforts of tackling this, I will be hosting a Writing Workshop called The Colloqua Dialogues Writing Workshop. It will be held Wednesday, December 16, 2015 from 1PM until 6PM at the Mildred Page Hall at S.T Nagbe United Methodist Church, 13th St. Sinkor, Monrovia. We will be sponsored by Business Link Inc., and other private sponsors. The event is free, and open to 100 persons ages 18-35. The workshop will be broken up into sessions including Resume/Cover Letter Writing, Scholarly Writing, Business/Professional Writing, and The Basic Do’s and Don’ts of Writing. We will have individuals from various professions present to network with our attendees, and hope that everyone present can take away something positive from the event. Anyone interested in any part of the workshop can email me at email@example.com.
What advice do you have for other bloggers?
The world of blogging is incredibly competitive. I only recently entered, and am trying to figure out the ropes, but the best advice I can give is to try to do something that isn’t already being done. Even if it is being done, you have to put your own twist on it. Don’t feel like nobody’s watching, or that nobody cares for what you have to put out there because people are always there to watch or listen. Always. You just have to give them something worth listening to. Try to focus on your passion and the success will come.
Your photos on Instagram are beautiful and you have great style. Where do you draw your inspiration?
Thank you! Glad you enjoy them. I’m mostly inspired by my culture and my desire to be remembered. I also try to take inspiration from the places I visit and my experiences. I want my style to be different and timeless. Definitely timeless. As for my photography, I don’t take my pictures, my friends take them for me, and the majority of them aren’t photographers, but I am involved in the creative direction for my pictures that aren’t taken by photographers. I just like to capture what I would like to see. Creative direction is something I am going into more now because people tell me I have a knack for it. I am young and there a lot of things I’m still figuring out so I am listening to people close to me on what they like about me, and ways that I inspire them. Maybe creative direction is on the horizon for me. We’ll see.
How do you plan on breaking into the world of modeling?
I started modeling in high-school for my school’s fashion show (Christiana High School in Delaware). However, I never really decided to focus on modeling until last year during an event called Consumers of Culture, hosted by The Royal Connect. There was a photographer there who goes by aBrilliantDummy on Instagram. She approached me and told me that she loved my face and look, and that she wanted to shoot with me. Our shoot was a wonderful experience. I never had someone bring me out of my element in that way before. After looking at the pictures, I thought, ‘Wow! This can be something, these are amazing!’. I love modeling, but it is not my number one priority. I’m going to let it take it’s course through social media because I think it’s really a great platform for that market.
What was it like living in Liberia during the war?
I lived in Sinkor and the fighting was about 25 minutes away in town, so there were moments when I was very frightened. But I think because I was so young and my mom tried so hard to keep me away from everything that was going on, my war story is different from that of other young Liberians who probably suffered more personal loss, or didn’t have that sense of love and that comfort like I had. I, however, don’t think it’s too different because I still felt a whole lot of fear and that false sense of security because I never knew what would happen next or if we’d have to move. Psychologically, the fear is still there.
What are your perceived needs of Liberia?
My list of perceived needs for Liberia is virtually endless. There so many things we need infrastructurally, but I believe in tackling these needs, we have to start by having more patriotism. There’s not much faith or trust in the nation from its people. At the root of it all, I think we have to try to have more love and more passion for our country. Because with that passion and love comes everything else. No person who has genuine love for their nation will sit and allow it to have all the problems Liberia has without doing anything about it.
What do you hope to see for Liberia’s future?
I would like to see the children prioritized more. The population of Liberia is very young and the young outnumber the old. Many kids are going without the proper care, the proper education and the proper nutrition. When we prioritize the children we will give them access to the things that they want and the things that they need. I think by taking care of the children we’re going to take care of Liberia. The children really are the future, and we have to invest in that future.