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  • Writer's pictureCommunication NWC

Learning how to Own their Story - Storytellers received their first week of training in Finland

The 10 selected participants of the Owning My Story project gathered in Helsinki in February to receive their first week of training on storytelling, performing and advocacy.

Accompanied by a group of dedicated facilitators from New Women Connectors and Miiti, the storytellers engaged in numerous activities that enhanced their creativity, self-esteem and lust for justice. The training lasted for five days and ended with a night of performances at the cultural center of Meri-rastilla.

own your space, share your story

On the first day, to create a safe space where everyone feels welcomed and comfortable, the trainees started by agreeing on rules and guidelines for the group to follow. They discussed their shared experiences as well as what makes each one unique, and came up with a name for their group: the curious-friendly-passionate storytellers.

The exercises then continued around the question of migration, and the different ways migrants evolve in their new environment: integration, assimilation, rejection, comprehension... The terms became starting points to discussions about the challenges that migrants face, and what solution exist to meaningfully include them.

One of the participants couldn't join physically because of visa related restrains. But she was with us online as much as possible!

Diving directly into the topic of storytelling, the participants were then asked to share a 3 min story that they had prepared beforehand, on one of three themes: hope, change and satisfaction, or lost and found.

What do we want and how will we claim it?

The second day began with a session on advocacy and EU elections. When are the elections? Who can vote, who can't? Why are these elections important?

After learning about democratic processes in Europe, discussions started on the question of representation, and which voices or stories are absent from the mainstream public sphere. In smaller groups, the participants were invited to think about the message that they wish to convey in the campaign for the European elections.

The second afternoon was dedicated to story-triggering exercises. Through different exercises, the curious-friendly-passionate storytellers learned how to use their creativity to create and build stories, on their own or even as a group.

On exercice to enhance creativity: draw the answer to 4 questions. What makes you happy? When have you felt seen? When have you felt cheated by society? What do you want to tell us?

Take the stage, own your story

During the last two days, the curious-friendly-passionate storytellers focused on ameliorating their storytelling skills and building up their narrative.

To train on claiming the stage and starting their performance with energy, they were for example given a square in which everyone was welcome to share their story, but with a special rule: only one person at a time was allowed to speak. When someone new entered the square and started reciting, the previous storyteller had to step away. The trainees, who had started the week shy, became more and more eager to claim their space and speak their truth.

Other exercices combined storytelling with the topic of migration: participants were for example asked to play a scene showing how migrants and refugees are ususally represented in mainstream media. Following the first scene, they were asked to change their mimics, this time protraying migrants and refugees as they really are, with their complexities and unique pathways.  

Finally, the curious-friendly-passionate storytellers got ready for the last part of the week: performing in front of a public.

While each one of them expressed feeling some stress to go on stage and tell their tales, they all owned their stories brilliantly, and deeply touched the public. For many, it was the first time ever being on stage. But definitely not the last!

Our curious-friendly-passionate storytellers will continue to receive training and shape their performances to take the stage in Amsterdam (Netherlands) and in Brussels (Belgium) at the end of April. Stay tuned on our social media and website for more info about the date and venue closer to the event! 

Are you intrested in this project? Read more about it on the Owning My Story project page.


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