It’s been about 2 months since the World Youth Congress in Istanbul, but life has been fairly hectic since then and though I wrote this post during the congress itself on my phone, I never got down to actually posting it.
Most facilitators at the WYC had their own way of introductions in each workshop and this one was no different. Our facilitator, Will, from New Zealand, taught us the Maori form of greeting: hongi.
Will runs an organization in NZ, which is involved in raising awareness about development issues in schools and colleges. One of the challenges they face is: How do you go into a group and make them listen to something you believe in and leave them, never to see them again, and still make sure they remember the message?
That is where story telling comes in….
We tell stories all the time. At the dinner table, in the bus, over phone.. Every conversation is a story. Story telling is easy, it is natural and it makes the audience relate to you. The workshop focused on how we should do storytelling with a purpose. Things to keep in mind like bringing true and personal (as far as possible) stories, ending with a punch line (key message) which does not go like “and the moral of the story is …”, voice modulation, expressions, gestures etcetera. One very important point that Will mentioned was that it is absolutely necessary for the stories to be true. For the stories to act as springboards, motivating others for good, you need to tell them what someone else has actually done. First express your key message in one line then look for a personal story to highlight the point, if you can’t find a personal story then go for story of a well known person. If the message is important it should have a precedent, a fictional story should be your last resort.
That was the technical part to the workshop, but what I found most interesting was the practical exercise at the end. We were all divided into groups of 5-6 and each of us had to tell a story to the group, about an incident that changed us in some way or had an influence on us and had to have a key message in the end. My group had 5 people and 4 out of 5 stories we told ended with a message of letting our guards down and trust strangers. Each story was on how an act of kindness by a stranger moved us and made us question our general distrust on strangers, which is mostly fueled by the stories we have heard from others. That left me wondering if the world really is so unsafe or is it just our fears that are put under a magnifying glass made of all the horror stories we hear in media or from a friend about what happened to his friend’s friend. I’m not denying that they aren’t true stories but maybe we need more of the good stories to be told. One tragedy outnumbers 99 acts of solidarity just like ‘one dirty fish spoils the entire pond’. This makes it even more important to have as many as good stories to be told and narrated so that we don’t lose faith in each other.