Pilot Activity Re: The “Artist Within” 2nd Training “Storytelling and cartoons” Potenza, Italy
Documentation of the pilot activity Comparative Research Network e.V. Magdalena Augustyniak My pilot activity was arranged for a target group of people working with me on a common case. We are volunteers at Kiron Higher Open Education, which is a higher education service catering exclusively to refugees. It enables them to achieve higher education and helps them with the common obstacles they would encounter at a traditional university, such as bureaucracy as they don’t need to provide documents apart from the confirmation of their refugee status or language skills - the open online courses provided by Kiron are in English, which is the second language of many refugees. Despite the latter, there are still many misunderstandings about the process of application and an almost constant influx of inquiries about various matters. Kiron is based mostly online, with a few offices around Europe, Berlin being the original and biggest one. Our team deals mostly with communications, which tends to include the aforementioned advice. There is direct contact with refugees who are residing in Berlin – often we conduct interviews with them, where they are encouraged to tell their life stories, usually with a focus on the positive outcome. This should encourage other people in a similar situation to use the possibility of acquiring higher education free of charge, but it also serves as feedback for the team – how can we make the experience easier, what is missing, what are the specific needs of refugees that need to be covered?
It was quite obvious to me that the techniques I learned during my storytelling and animation workshop may provide useful while helping those people. Often the slight language barrier makes it difficult to convey specific ways in which order some processes, for example the online courses are supposed to run, which can be stressful. In this context, it may prove useful to apply storytelling techniques in direct contact with the refugees in addition to explaining things visually â€“ as interpretation of visual cues tends to overlap no matter the cultural heritage of the people involved â€“ may provide useful and curb frustration on both sides. Apart from that, Kiron as an organization should tell its own captivating story in order to acquire new students as well as supporters and for that, we need to know how a good story is created, In my pilot activity I tried to reiterate in a brief session the contents of the workshop I attended back in Potenza, Italy. Firstly, we brainstormed about storytelling in general to check what the stand on this topic is for all of us and then I acquainted the members of my group with any aspects of the topic that were missing. We then created some short visual narratives of our own and as the group was already familiar with creating a storyboard, it was a fairly easy task. We also discussed how we could use the visual aspect of storytelling for the Kiron program and came to the consensus that we would most profit from a visual guide to the process of enrolling, as this is the issue that causes the most inquiries.
From this I went on to introduce the group to the basics of Adobe Flash. Here the downside was that I did not feel competent enough to convincingly teach them every aspect of the software that I got to know back in Italy, so in the end it was rather superficially explained. It was also because of the limited time – a single session is unfortunately not enough for a recap of a week’s worth of information, no matter how hard you try to condense it. All in all, the theoretical information from the storytelling workshop can provide a useful approach for solving some problems in NGO work, whether they stem from working directly with refugees or not – it may not seem groundbreaking and is no universal solution, but sometimes the most obvious, even natural approaches really are the best.
Copyright Recipients are free to use all or parts of this document for personal use however are requested to inform the author. Recipients are requested to acknowledge The artist within – Applied eMOTION consortium and the author in any reference to the content of this document. In the event of any further queries please consult the author.
Acknowledgements This project was possible with the financial support from the Erasmus+ program. The methodological resources and inspiration came from the The artist within â€“ Applied eMOTION long-term adult education project (www.theartistwithin.eu). The generosity from the fund and these organisations is much appreciated.
Published on Jun 2, 2016
Published on Jun 2, 2016
local pilot activity done in Berlin, Germany in the frame of the european strategic partnership "the artisti within"