International Youth Exchange
Storytelling for Social Justice, Dialogue, and Inclusion
Storytelling is an important medium through which communities are created. The stories we hear and tell play an important role in the social construction of reality specifically as it pertains to the discourses available in media, literature, and policy making. Popular stories tell a great deal about what a society considers important and meaningful, and thus provide a useful starting point for analyzing how racism, sexism and other forms of oppression operate. Becoming aware of the power of storytelling and the mechanisms through which it gets exploited by dominant and extremist social groups alike is crucial for young people to develop as critical thinkers and increase their power as social actors. Understanding the power of stories and developing a diverse and effective toolset of storytelling techniques supports youth workers to tackle social injustice, prevent youth radicalization, as well as more effectively reach young audiences and other stakeholders.
Storytelling is a needed tool for youth and youth workers alike given the national contexts of the participating organisations in this project. In Bulgaria, for instance, storytelling has recently played a crucial role in manipulating the public to reject the ratification of the Istanbul convention and to create threatening narratives that children’s rights protection will lead to children being taken away from their parents and given to LGBT couples in Norway which conservative groups in Bulgaria have villanized due to its liberal and progressive values.
The youth exchange aims to create a discussion platform for youth to explore storytelling as a tool for social dialogue and transformation. It also aims to equip youth with skills, knowledge, and confidence in writing and storytelling. To that end, writing and peer review workshops are built into the program each day of the youth exchange. In addition, the youth exchange will also take advantage of non-formal education methods which are described in the learning methods section.
The main objectives of the youth exchange are:
– To develop young people’s skills, knowledge and confidence in writing and storytelling
– To increase young people’s capacities for critical thinking and critical analysis of media, as well as hidden
messages and calls to action
– To learn about and explore the meanings of social justice, privilege and social stratification
– To creatively explore ways to create social dialogue through the medium of writing and storytelling
– To examine the role of young people in the building of open and just democratic societies
– To inspire and empower young people to act as ambassadors of multicultural understanding
The youth exchange will take advantage of non-formal education methods, including group discussions, interactive exercises and games to better understand theme-related concepts, sharing circles, village exploration, brainstorming, interactive presentations, role plays, dance improvisation, theatre of the oppressed, Spoken Word, a Master Class with a famous Bulgarian writer, international performances, etc.
The project will also feature an international evening organized by training participants to share aspects of their cultures with the local community, as well as a final storytelling performance whereby youth will read/perform some of their creations to facilitate reflection and dialogue with the local community where the project will be hosted.
Daily small group and whole group reflection time will allow participants to gauge their learning process, and express emotions and insights.
What will the youth exchange participants learn and experience?
The experiential program is organized under 3 themes:
▼ critically examining ideas and beliefs related to society and democracy
▼learning about social justice, privilege, and social stratification
Developing Storytelling Tools
▼exploring the typology of stories offered by Anne Belle in her book “Storytelling for Social Justice: Connecting Narrative and the Arts in Antiracist Teaching”
▼ learning new strategies and developing new skills in relation to effective storytelling
▼ becoming aware of the importance of considering one’s audience
▼developing writing skills and skills necessary to provide feedback and peer-review others’ writing
The Power of Effective Storytelling
▼gaining experience with transforming stories to give voice to marginalized people and challenge the status quo
▼reflecting on the importance of storytelling as a tool for social dialogue and transformation
▼gaining confidence and knowledge to utilise own writing and storytelling for social change
19 – 27 July 2020,
SolidarityWorks Center for Learning, Sharing, and Cultural Exchange
If you are interested in joining the project and are a resident of one of the following countries, don’t hesitate to e-mail us or our partners for more information.
The project is funded by the Erasmus+ program of the European Union