STRANGER Storytelling and experiences of being “strangers”
TEATRO DI ANGHIARI
Methodology Northern Ireland Institute for Conflict Research
Norway AFI and Work Research Institute
Oppland County Library and Lom Public Library
Italy Teatro di Anghiari
Reflections on Being a Stranger Partners
Reflections on Process
INTRODUCTIONS When we began this programme, the partners, (who hailed from four countries: Italy; Northern Ireland; Norway and Turkey), were Strangers to one another. We came together professionally to consider how Storytelling could be used break down barriers between Strangers. Based on the context in each of our countries, for the purposes of this process we began by asking ourselves â€œWho exactly is a Stranger?â€?. We debated long and hard, challenged by the realisation that we had more Strangers in our midst than we had anticipated and, for the purposes of this project, agreed to define Strangers as: those who were economic migrants and refugees; those who were seeking asylum; those who come from the religious, ethnic or sectarian 'other' or minorities within our nation states; and, those neighbours who continue to remain strangers to one another because of diverse languages and cultural practices. This document charts some of the methods we employed to consider: how the process of storytelling could help transform feelings of isolation; the process undertaken with reference to challenges faced; the development of a series of partner-specific recommendations for using storytelling as a way to address social inclusion. The document begins with a synopsis of collective recommendations drawn together from each country's experience that we deemed universally applicable for those committed to developing storytelling projects. This is followed by a country specific section which looks at the experiences of each of the partners. It is noteworthy that the Norwegian section is sub-divided into two categories reflecting the experiences of both of that country's two partnerships, one of which was carried out its work in a rural area and the other in an urban context, but both using the library system as a focal point. As a result of our 6
diverse circumstances, each of the partner sections gives focus to different models of success evidenced at differing stages in the process. For some this began and ended with recruitment, for others it was the 'product' of an archive of stories that could be shared and used for training purposes in future projects, for some this work was carried out in small group settings, with others work was conducted with individuals. For all the partners, it was agreed that it was necessary to ensure that there was a framework in place to ensure the use of ethical principles in how storytelling is conducted. What follows is a synopsis of this process. In parallel with the work we carried out with the Strangers we had recruited to engage as participants in each of our countries, we deliberately made the decision to conduct this programme as a process of experiential learning for the Partners. We aimed to proactively reflect on being a â€œStrangerâ€? first hand, as a group of partners with diverse backgrounds. Bit by bit, over a series of meetings in one another's countries and by using storytelling as a key medium, we explored the similarities and differences in our lives. We socialised, spent time with one another in concentrated and unfamiliar residential situations over a two year process where we began to open up our personal and professional lives to one another and to share aspects of our individual life stories. We engaged in more formal storytelling processes and, through role playing, workshops and site visits, we considered and built stories about our personal histories, our geographies, genders, work practices, interests and family circumstances. Slowly, exchanging these stories changed our status as a group of Strangers, united only by a common project and began to strengthen relationships as we shared our confidences. Consequently, by the completion of the project, Strangers have now become respected colleagues and friends with deeper understanding of what it feels and means to be a Stranger.
COLLECTIVE RECOMMENDATIONS 1. The venue in which any Storytelling programme takes place is crucial and needs to be considered in terms of what might act as a barrier to participants including accessibility, facilities, social and cultural norms. 2. Adequate preparation time and resources need to be given to any recruitment and engagement process as does ensuring that linguistic and cultural expectations do not create tensions within groups and between individuals. 3. Trust must be established as an integral part of any process before storytelling commences and so team building and getting-to-know-you exercises in group situations are useful. 4. People in a group can be ready at different times to engage in storytelling. Whilst not all participants in group sessions are always able to share their stories, their presence as active listeners can be just as important. 5. The use of props and prompts can aid memory recollection and are particularly useful with those who are older or who have learning disabilities and degenerative diseases. 6. Participants need to be clear about the purpose of engagement in any programme to ensure commitment and the process should not be confused with any psycho-therapeutic interventions. 7. An agreement may need to be reached with participants to clarify how any stories they share will be drawn on, who will have access to any recorded materials and how any story might be edited or disseminated. 8. Facilitators need to have the capacity to identify, provide additional support to or to signpost onto other organisations those participants who become vulnerable as a result of engaging in any process. 9. Storytelling is both cathartic and inspirational, participants who engage in the sharing of their stories should be affirmed to feel valued, respected and positive about their contributions however challenging the process has been for them. 10. The formation of a working group drawn from key stakeholders in the community and the participants can be productive in supporting and sustaining a project. 8
NORTHERN IRELAND Institute for Conflict Research
ORGANISATIONAL INTRODUCTION The Institute for Conflict Research (ICR) is an independent, not-for profit charity that works throughout Northern Ireland on the development of policy and practice relating to the social inclusion of those from minority communities and communities of interest. Northern Ireland remains a country that is emerging from years of conflict with high levels of no or limited contact between many Protestants and Catholics who comprise the two largest communities. Their preferred choices of separate social housing and schooling reflect a key feature in how public sector services are delivered to communities reluctant to connect with one another. ICR carries out action-based research with policy impacts within minority communities to ensure that their needs and rights are represented to those who are in a position to support them including to government departments, statutory service providers and those working and living in neighbouring communities.
We deliver diverse
training programmes to further this work including those with a focus on in anti-discrimination, community relations and the shared use of public spaces. We have a particular commitment to working with those who have suffered discrimination as a result of their ethnicity, nationality or membership of a minority community of interest.
What have we done? Methodology Northern Ireland has an indigenous ethnic minority community called Travellers or Pavee whose culture is traditionally itinerant and one based on oral traditions. Women from these communities are at a further remove from both of the already segregated majority communities. Many of them experience extreme forms of poverty, poor physical and mental health and have very limited or no literacy skills with very restricted educational attainment, much of which is related to their social isolation. ICR decided to focus the project on these Strangers â€“ namely, the Stranger within. To that end we contacted a non-governmental agency working with Travellers and, after a series of consultations with some of the women using their services, we designed and began to deliver an eight session story-telling programme to between 8 and 20 women from seven Traveller families. With no dedicated materials within the education curriculum about their lifestyle, the women felt that their culture and heritage were at risk of being lost and were undervalued within their own and wider society. By facilitating a space and process where their traditions could be remembered and articulated through storytelling, the aim was to record their stories so that they could also be used to raise awareness about their traditions, to break down barriers and to address prejudice. At their weekly meetings carried out in a location that they chose, the women came together to share reminiscences. The meetings were convened by ICR and co-facilitated with an established, published poet that we engaged for the process. Each session ended with a shared meal and on two occasions the women were taken on site visits with their children and grandchildren to both prompt the flow of their stories by taking them to places they had passed through when living a travelling and not sedentary lifesty The programme culminated with the production of an illustrated book â€œStoryBoxâ€? which captured vignettes and reminscences of Traveller's lifestyles from earlier times. On publication, copies of the book were presented at a public ceremony by the women to senior government representatives and to the Head of the Libraries Service in Northern Ireland which were then placed in all of the libraries and mobile libraries throughout Northern Ireland. 11
In addition to attending the group meetings between Partners , programming and hosting a series of events in Belfast with guest speakers and performers, ICR took the opportunity to meet bilaterally with both of the Norwegian partner organisations to discuss programming and outputs and to understand better the circumstances in which they were delivering the project. ICR also played a lead role in the editing of the contributions for this resource. We took responsibility for facilitating the evaluation part of the programme at the Anghiari meeting and for working with both the Turkish and Italian designers on the translation, editing and proofing of this communally agreed document.
Challenges faced and obstacles overcome In the first instance we considered working with those from the majority community on issues relating to the conflict, but based on previous experiences we rejected this as we were concerned that as a result of telling stories with any traumatic content that what the participants might reveal could result in their requiring ongoing psycho-social support that we were unable to provide as part of this programme. This programme was one which was taken to, rather than initiated by the participants. So, to, minimise any likelihood of drop off, we wanted to ensure that those who engaged felt that it was something that had a goal and an end product that they valued rather than simply being a diversionary activity. To that end we agreed that a tangible outcome would be a booklet that participants could use to pass on the value of their customs to their families and to the wider community. The group of participants we recruited did not find it easy to commit to each component of the programme for a variety of reasons (including ill health, caring commitments, job related and other appointments with statutory service providers) and they often brought children or other family members along when they could come which changed the dynamic in sessions. This meant we needed to be flexibile in our delivery to ensure the focus of the group was not disrupted and that people remained engaged. We worked closely with a family support worker when we took the participants and their families out on site visits as she knew the participants and their grandchildren and children well. 12
Recommendations When working with those who are vulnerable or may be retraumatised by engaging in a storytelling process, facilitators should ensure that there are adequate support mechanisms in place prior to beginning this work to aid participants who are vulnerable to the process. Working with older people requires special attention to detail and the chronology or sequencing of their storytelling. They may find the process can be helped by encouraging participants to bring props and prompts such as photographs or by being conducted in settings that can evoke memories. Providing refreshments and making the process an event allows the participants to feel valued and affirmed. Reassuring participants about the use, purpose and ownership of their stories can help to bring trust in a process that may be unfamiliar.
Example of a story told This story was told by a woman in her late 60s recollecting her childhood within a community that lived primarily in wagons/caravans/trailers on the move and where illiteracy was the norm – she spoke with pride and humour about her Grandfather who could read. Grandfather's Penny Glasses “When you were travelling through a town or a village, you would go round with cans and buckets to collect water for cooking or washing. Some people could be very friendly and come and meet with you and play with the children. Other times you might come to a bad spot where they wouldn't give you water. So we would go to the graveyards instead. You see there is always fresh water taps in graveyards. We would fill up our cans and buckets there. Now my grandfather wore glasses and no Traveller wore them even though half of them would be stone-blind. You would never see a Traveller with glasses, because they would say only country people wore glasses. But Grandfather was different and he had these penny glasses. He used to love reading and we loved listening to his stories. There wasn't television at that time and he would read all the little books that my granny would get when she was out trading and selling things at people's doors. He would read stories and all the children would listen. And they would be jealous because no-one in their families could read. And we'd be playing around with all the kids in the camp and sometimes when we were fighting they'd say “Your grandpas a 'speccy' four eyes” – but they had to make friends with us again quickly because they used to like to hear him tell stories so much.” 13
NORWAY Work Research Institute
ORGANISATIONAL INTRODUCTION The Work Research Institute (WRI) is a social science institute established in 1964 performing multidisciplinary, action-oriented research. From 2014, WRI became incorporated into Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. Our aim is to produce systemic knowledge of working life. The Institute is especially concerned with forms of organisation and leadership which promote the collective ability to learn, cooperate and adapt and thereby create a better working environment. WRI emphasizes the importance of broad, action-oriented research programs based on the needs of working life. The programs are formed in close collaboration with Norwegian business and industry, both in the public and private sector, as well as with national and international research institutions. The institute also carries out short-term projects for organizations, companies, government agencies and other public bodies. There are currently 43 researchers employed and organized into four sections: Innovation and Industrial Development; Coping, Work and Diversity; Community, Work and Politics and Organization of the Welfare State.
Sociology, psychology and anthropology constitute the
majority of the disciplines within the Institute, but we also benefit from the expertise provided by our graduates in engineering, law, medicine and other disciplines. Several staff members have adjunct scientific positions at universities and colleges.
What have we done? Methodology At the outset, WRI planned to recruit participants with migrant backgrounds from two workplaces where we had previously run research and development projects and invite them to form groups at their workplaces. However as we ran into practical problems as a result of shift-working practices, we decided to look for other places to recruit participants for the groups. As a public library in Oslo, Holmlia Deichmanske Library, was willing to start and run storytelling groups, we felt this would provide a complementarity to our partners in rural Norway whose focus was also to be on running Storytelling as an extended Library services to those from new migrant communities. A delay to the implementation of the programme occurred with a 'dead' period of three months due to a change in and recruitment of new staff at the Library and a further delay in recruitment because of a vacation period. In due course, (October 2013) we arranged and conducted three two-hour group sessions at the Holmlia library with between 12 and 14 participants participating in the three group sessions. All were migrants from a variety of countries, the majority of which were from Asia, and predominantly Pakistan and India. The sessions were based on a program with small introductory and simple storytelling exercises: BEING A STRANGER. Experiences and stories about being a stranger in a new place (Participants came together in groups of four. Everyone told a short story about a time where they were a stranger in a new place (a school, a job, a city, a country, in the store, on the tram, at the library or similar). YOUR NAME. Tell the story of your name. Who gave you your name? What does it mean? Why were you given that name? Do you have any stories related to it? THINGS YOU HAVE BROUGHT WITH YOU. Tell about one thing you have with you. Show us the thing and tell about it. How did you get it, what does it for you, what do you use it for, etc. FUNNY MISUNDERSTANDINGS. Stories about funny misunderstandings and confusions you have experienced. The intention had been to start with the migrant group and, as soon as it was functioning at an adequate level, the plan had been to recruit participants from the majority population to exchange stories across the two groups. However this proved to be impossible and after the third (and last) session took place before Christmas 2013, we decided 19
that this line of working was not as productive as it might be and terminated the group sessions to focus on the learning to date and on the co-ordination of the programme and with providing support to partners.
Challenges faced and obstacles overcome We faced several considerable challenges and obstacles which necessitated a change in direction to keep the programme alive. It proved unwise to recruit onto voluntary programmes in the workplace when participants are engaged in shift work. Employees are not eager to extend their time at the workplace one or two hours before or after their shifts to participate in voluntary programmes. Nor were the employers willing to support the project financially, despite the benefits this might bring to a more integrated workspace. It took a long time (several months) from the decision by Deichmanske Holmlia public library to convene storytelling groups until this work could commence. The unanticipated delays had a big impact on the process and on WRI's own working practice. The Norwegian language proficiency in the group of migrants that was recruited was too low to be able to work successfully with the group in a forum for storytelling. Nearly all exercises, even the simplest, were performed with an absolute minimum of words. We had to terminate the group sessions because the sessions did not take us anywhere and we could not observe any progress. In hindsight, we should have started the recruitment process earlier and might also have benefited from having made a â€œPlan Câ€? as it turned out that the recruitment processes at were not particularly successful.
Learning and Recommendations Based on our the WRI experience, there is reason to believe that to be successful with a recruitment process with groups where their lives are determined by working shift patterns there is a need to incentivise and motivate potential participants to spend their time engaging in groups like this. People from the majority population will often have more developed social networks and access to a broader variety of social arenas, organizations and communities than people from immigrant groups. Consequently the social incentive to participate in mixed groups like 20
the ones we had in mind might therefore be weaker for the majority population than it is for new migrants. New migrants may be more eager to participate in such groups as there is potentially a stronger incentive for them to need to socialise and this provides an opportunity to learn and practice the Norwegian language. The intention was to put together groups of migrants and people from the majority population to share stories and experiences about â€œstrangenessâ€?, about being a stranger and the journey from outsider to insider. In this way, sharing the identification of common human experiences of being outsider, was expected to create a common ground between the participants. Our experience indicates that it is perfectly possible to create a common ground using all kinds of stories. It is not necessary to use stories and experiences with being strangers as a point of departure. But such stories can also be used â€“ alongside other stories fit for the purpose. We also think that it contributes to the formation of a common group identity if from the outset one is able to identify and agree upon a product that the group process will produce. An example can be a small collection of stories, a storytelling evening or other things. The settings where the group sessions take place are significant. In a workplace, cross-cultural groups might contribute to the development and improvement of relations between groups of employees that will continue to work together. Both the employees in question as well as the workplace itself might therefore benefit from the work of such groups. A public library, on the other hand, is a public setting where relations between people are more ad hoc and superfluous and with less permanence. To create a longer lasting impact on the social relations between participants in any storytelling group, there must be opportunities for the group members to continue their interactions after the termination of any programme. It is not self-evident that a public library is always best-placed to provide such opportunities for groups of clients. It might, for example, be better to involve various NGOs that can provide group members and interested parties with access to more permanent facilities.
NORWAY Oppland County Library and Lom Public Library
ORGANISATIONAL INTRODUCTION Oppland county library is a centre of competence and an initiator of library development in the Norwegian county of Oppland. The County Library coordinates and provides services for 26 public and 15 high school libraries. As of January 2011, immigrants and people with immigrant parents constitute 12.3 % of the total population of 186,087 inhabitants in Oppland. Lom Public Library is situated in the small mountain municipality of Lom in Oppland County. The municipality has 2,358 inhabitants, which is small even by Norwegian standards. Lom Public Library participates in The Stranger project along with the County Library. They facilitate and initiate local storytelling groups. To help the library run these groups, they get help from volunteers and teachers from the adult learning centres in Lom and the neighbouring municipalities Skj책k and V책g책. The public library has 3 employees and is open five days a week. In 2012 the library was awarded the prestigious Norwegian Library of the year award. The Library participates in the cultural activities in the municipality, as well as being an inclusive arena and a natural meeting place for people in the local community.
What have we done? Methodology Planning and running the Storytelling Groups The project began with the establishment of a working group with representatives from the library, the adult learning centres and the volunteer centre in Lom. The group planned four storytelling group meetings to be held throughout the Spring of 2013 and the responsibility for recruiting participants to the meetings was divided between members of the working group. When working with the different groups over the four sessions, the Librarians from Lom introduced the concept of â€œThe Strangerâ€? and undertook the process of collecting their stories relating. Recruiting Participants Participants were recruited from library users, pupils at the adult learning centre and the local secondary school. The challenge was to recruit ethnic Norwegian participants specifically to create dialogue between minorities and majorities. The librarians, teachers and some volunteers represented the majority communities. It was easier to recruit participants to the migrant group than it was for the group comprising members of the majority community. We recognised that more than the majority community, those who are new migrants need an inclusive arena in which to meet people and an opportunity to practice and use the Norwegian language. Most ethnic Norwegians already have well established social networks and busy everyday lives and consequently it can prove to be a challenge to get them involved in projects such as this one. The Group Meetings 4 sessions were held. 1st meeting. INTRODUCTION TO THE PROJECT. This was a start up meeting where information was disseminated about the project and about storytelling. The library staff invited two local storytellers to tell stories from their own lives. The event was structured to also allow for music by local musicians and for the opportunity to socialise over coffee and home-made cake. 25
2nd Meeting A THING THAT MEANS SOMETHING TO YOU As a warm up exercise, all the participants explained the origins of their name, how it was given to them and what they knew about its meaning. After this introduction, the session changed to focus on the evening's theme of the evening. Some of the participants had prepared a story to tell to the group which they had begun to prepare at the adult learning centre before the meeting. 3rd Meeting WOMEN ONLY - LADIES AND LOVE At this session, almost all of the group had a story to tell abaout love, marriage, menstruation or other women specific issues. The stories were told in Norwegin, English sign and body language. The women appeared to be more comfortable without men present and lost some of their inhibitions and spoke more freely than they had previously. 4th Meeting MEN ONLY â€“ TALL TALES This storytelling session was led by a male teacher from the adult learning centre. The participants then warmed up by telling a story about their name. The evening ended with music and singing which seemed to be a good theme for a later storytelling session. The Atmosphere It was important to create an atmosphere where the participants felt secure and safe. It was also important to ensure the participants were familiar with the aim of the project and what our understanding of storytelling is as it can have different meanings and uses in different cultures. Coffee and cake were prepared for each meeting which made the event more relaxed and sociable within the chosen meeting place, and one where it was easier to talk informally with different people. The theme for each meeting was introduced by one of the people in the group telling a personal story relating to the event's theme. This was intended to create trust between the group which comprised both ethnic Norwegians and the other participants and to achieve a goal of making the working group and the participants into one storytelling group. Challenges faced and obstacles overcome Inclusion and integration is in itself a big challenge and this was clear to us all throughout the work we carried out on the project. We never thought storytelling groups in the library would revolutionize integration in our community, but we did believe that the project could 26
provide be drops of something positive for the participants. We continue to hope that Storytelling can, like ripples in water, spread and create change and better integration over time. Practical challenges Transportation Transportation from the neighbouring villages of Skj책k and V책g책 was an on-going challenge. The working group were responsible for the transportation of the participants. In rural areas in Norway there is almost no public transportation in the evening. Reliance on having access to a car and a driver's licence, can be a serious problem for migrants and in particular to women. Time Time also proved to be a challenge as many people have different cultural expectations of what constitutes the being 'on time'. We began to tell participants that the storytelling events would start 30 minutes earlier than we actually planned to begin to ensure that they would be there and ready to commence. This proved to be a good choice! The challenge of integrate and engage the immigrants outside the storytelling groups We hoped that a side effect of the project would be more migrants visiting the library and their becoming more familiar with us and our services. However this has not yet been seen to be the case. While the participants in the storytelling project come to meetings, they are rarely seen in the library otherwise. Since a few of the participants were initially library users, we thought they might visit us more after getting to know the librarians and the library services better. The library is a key institution used to access information about local societies and in particular in rural Norway, about the areas surrounding the small villages in which they exist. The library is, furthermore, the principal place where information about events, activities and organizations are found to help integration within communities. The challenge of engaging Norwegians As part of the project, we invited the well-known writer and speaker Amal Aden to a public event in the library. She is a refugee from Somalia who arrived alone in Norway as an asylum seeker. Her personal story is remarkable and has been a key theme in most of her books and 27
speeches. This event was open to everyone and was intended to be a good way to introduce the storytelling project to our community. Unfortunately as only a few people showed up we became a little disappointed and wondered if an interest for integration and inclusion was absent in our village. But, there can be many different reasons for poor attendance at this event and therefore we have not drawn any definite conclusions. We have not yet had a storytelling group meeting open to other indigenous Norwegians. While working on collecting stories, only migrants and members of the working group were invited to the storytelling groups. The reason for doing it this way was to make the participants feel secure and free when telling their personal and sometimes difficult stories. The next step, and our anticipated continuation of this storytelling project, will be to get more people from our village involved. We want to try to get some of the migrants from the storytelling groups to present some of the collected stories to schoolchildren, in workplaces or at events in the library. Recommendations Our experiences from the storytelling project are mainly positive. It was rewarding to get to know new people and the atmosphere at the storytelling meetings was indescribably good. We left every meeting uplifted, inspired and feeling exceptionally lucky to be working with this project. We have the impression that the participants have felt the same way. We have experienced a great deal of mutual trust and this was reflected in the content of stories that were told during the meetings. Creating and maintaining a good atmosphere where participants felt safe and secure was important. The theme of every meeting was introduced through a personal story told by one of the work group members. This created a bond of companionship and made it easier for the migrants to share their stories. It was a success and a subsequent recommendation that sometimes groups be divided by gender with different themes in each group. The Ladies Night was particularly successful with more than 20 women participating, almost all of whom shared a story. Some of the stories were very emotional, intimate and difficult to tell. There were tears, but also a lot of laughter. Some of the women told stories they never would have told if men were present. Our working group, with representatives drawn from the local adult learning centre, volunteers and librarians, functioned excellently. 28
It was valuable for us to have partners who work with migrants in our local community on a daily basis. They brought both the skills and the knowledge required for the project. Before and after the meetings with the storytelling group, migrants and teachers at the adult learning centres focussed on the current theme in the class. We invited migrants from our neighbour municipalities to join the storytelling group. This was initially to get more participants. However, an added benefit was closer cooperation between neighbouring municipalities and emerging and new friendships among the migrants. We found that in small municipalities like ours, extending support to migrant community members across municipal borders is important. To be able to speak your own language and practice your own culture is important for everyone.
Examples of a stories told A story about falling and being in love. Woman (24) Iran I was sixteen and had a boyfriend in Iran. We loved each other and wanted to get married, but my family didn`t agree. We wrote letters to each other. He delivered his letters outside our house. He hid them under the stairs. At night I went outside and collected them and also left my letters to him there. He drove a car and used to drive past me and my friends when we were walking to school. Twice I spoke to him on the phone. I was at my uncle's and borrowed his phone. One time we met at the square. I was shopping with my mother and he was keeping close to us. My mother didn`t like it and I had to pretend I didn`t see him. Once, he met my brother on the way to school. They started talking about me and my brother wondered why he was so interested in me. My boyfriend said that he loved me and wanted to marry me. Then my brother knocked him down. One time we met in a shop. He bought fruit and behind one of the shelves he gave me an apple. No one had to see us. I didn`t eat the apple, but tucked it away in a closet at home. In winter my parents didn`t think I should walk to school, it was too far and too cold, so three other girls and I went by taxi. One day when I had my examinations and finished before the others, I went in the taxi by myself. But the driver didn`t drive me home. He drove for two hours to a place I didn`t know and said I had to stay there because he wanted to marry me. I told him I already had a boyfriend and I didn`t want to marry him, but he didn`t listen. He took me with him to his aunt where I 29
stayed for one month. I didn`t have a phone. My family didn`t know where I was until he called them after a week and told them he wanted to marry me. My family didn`t agree, but I couldn`t go home. We got married and lived with his father and stepmother who didn`t like me. She said I couldn`t cook and we argued a lot. We lived together for four years in Iran. After three years I got pregnant and we went to Turkey where we lived for two years. There my husband found himself a mistress who lived with us in our home. I was depressed and wanted a divorce, but my husband refused. In Turkey I came in contact with a boy who had relatives in Norway, and in 2011 we came here. We lived together for one year. Now we`re divorced and my husband lives in another part of the country. After a few years, my mother found a dried apple in the closet at home. Aida (43) Palestine When my son was 19, he got private tuition on Saturdays. As he wanted to be an engineer, he got lessons in mathematics and physics. We had come to Baghdad from Palestine and our eldest son had been born there. One Saturday when he had lessons in mathematics, he didn`t come home afterwards. We looked everywhere for him and finally we found him in a hospital. He had been knocked down on the street and had major injuries to his head. For a period he was in and out of the hospital. The situation was tense and people were often brutally knocked down and killed around us where we lived. As my injured son had a Palestinian background, the situation was particularly difficult. After the last operation at the hospital the doctors said that his head would not bear more beating or heavy mental strain. We decided that he had to go back to Palestine where the conditions had improved. The rest of the family moved to another part of Baghdad before we fled to a refugee camp in Syria. Wherever we went, as a memory of my son, I brought this toy monkey that he loved so much when he was little. One winter night in 2009 my son came to V책g책, 6 years after we had parted from him, we met again. My son has come to Norway and waits anxiously whether he is allowed to stay here.
LOM LIBRARY’S PHOTOGALLERY
TEATRO DI ANGHIARI
ITALY Associazione Culturale Teatro Stabile di Anghiari
ORGANISATIONAL INTRODUCTION Teatro di Anghiari (TdA) normally works with groups of adults (theatre and autobiography training programs) and groups at risk of social exclusion, mainly with alcohol and drugs abusers (featuring the Ser.T, the Drugs and Alcohol Department, and groups of students from the Italian secondary school), immigrants and anti-racist organizations. TdA often mix theatre and video languages, to set and show our personal point of view about "storytelling". TdA members are storytellers and have been producers of community theatre since 1996 (Tovaglia a Quadri Festival), collecting stories that belong to the tradition of the social struggles for equal rights in Tuscany and Italy. Since 2002, TdA have also been involved in a project about the Fascist Concentration Camp n. 97 of Renicci, Anghiari, where more than 150 people were jailed, tortured and killed, most of them deported from Yugoslavia during the Nazi fascist invasion of 1942.
What have we done? Methodology TdA's role in The Stranger project has, like the other partners,been to collect, develop and disseminate stories, but TdA played a leading role on teaching, adapting and developing the storytelling methodology within the partnership. TdA also organised the final "3 day workshop" in June, 2014. In The Stranger Project we used a methodology to collect life stories with which we have been experimenting in Anghiari over the past ten years. This methodology was developed through the connection between Teatro di Anghiari's work on storytelling and Libera UniversitĂ dell'Autobiografia's (Free University of Autobiography) process of collecting narratives and using them to tell stories of community. The autobiographical methodologies enables the participants to perceive, identify and manifest his/her own needs, they are founded on the principle that retracing one's own life story enables a person to engage in "reflective behaviour", or rather auto-reflectivity, which permits learning from personal experience, both the personal and form other's perpsectives. This kind of methodology consists of people telling and writing their stories or doing a narrative interview. In the project we use a narrative interview according to the following steps: 1. Preparatory Phases 2.Thinking and constructing the interview 3. Contact 4. The interview (the biographical and narrative dialogue) 5. Rework/Feedback This final stage is one of the most important moments. When you have collected a life story, you can use it to make people think, learn and understand. First of all it is useful to the person who tells the story, but it is also potentially powerful for a community and for broader society. In fact, if we consider a life story in a book, a documentary, a performance, through storytelling, we can reflect ourselves in the story of the others. When we work with stories of â€œstrangersâ€? we can use them to improve the inclusion process, to understand the real meaning of integration, to make all people feel welcomed in the community and a part of it. 35
What we did We decided to integrate what has been done in the past with the objectives of the project, and to involve in the project different people from different countries. We contacted people knowing them personally or people known by public service, at schools or at a public aggregation centre for young people. We collected three life stories: a young Kosovarian student, who has been living in Italy since the end of the '90s, a young woman from Romania, a woman from Equador and finally we chose to share a story we collected some years ago, because we believe that it is a good one to understand â€œa hope tripâ€?. They all live or lived in the small area of Italy where Anghiari is. What we did in the project was also to share our methodology and practice allowing the partners to understand first-hand our chosen way of working. We explained this at our Oslo meeting, we went more indepth about theatre and storytelling in Belfast and then provided an opportunity for experiential learning for the other partners in Anghiari in October 2013 at a specific workshop.
Challenges faced and obstacles overcome Challenges Faced/Obstacles Overcome The biggest challenge of all is to keep alive (among our group) the topic: to be "a stranger" today. Because we feel comfortable as researchers, artists and "cool" people, we can sometimes forget how it feels to be a stranger. So, we started to reflect on the ways to approach to "storytelling" and to the narrative performances as well with our open groups of strangers. Exploring methods for challenging stereotypes is a never ending experience, and we learned a lot from the "stranger actors" including better methods for a development of inter-cultural dialogues between the majority and minority of our population. The Challenge of trust During the last months of 2013 we continued to collect life stories of young migrants and their relatives, in the small context in which we live. Sometimes we faced an understandable feeling of suspicion and mistrust (for example: "Why must I be a witness for all the bad stories 36
from which I run away?"), and we took a lot of time to gain the trust of our participants. We tested our autobiographical method individually, and storytelling proved to be the tool that best fits each individual. Another challenge was how to mix the stories of the strangers with the stories of Italian immigration and emigration. It is not easy for Italians to admit that we ourselves are a nation of immigrants, probably one of the biggest one. This kind of "storytelling crossover" produces an interesting form of common ground. The Challenge of Bureaucracy: waiting for a new Europe One story that had been collected (the story of Albertina Mustafa, a 20yrs old Kosovan who has lived in Italy since the late '90s) was due to be told at the workshop in Belfast by the protagonist herself. However this proved to be impossible because at Pisa airport when we were due to depart for Ireland (Pisa Airport), we encountered problems with her passport. As a result of restrictions, with a Kosovan passport Albertina could walk on European soil, but needed a visa to enter the UK and Ireland. The travel agency told us that everything would be alright but unfortunately she was unable to come and participate in the workshop. She was forced to take the train back to Arezzo. This proved to be another and very sad way for us to realise what it means â€œto be a strangerâ€?. Recommendations The skill of storytelling provides to the same person a space for her/himself. When we collect a story of life we face the other person who gives it to us as a gift. It's a relational space that allows us to overcome boundaries and deepen personal knowledge, to underst something that we did not know before . The person who tells us her/his story has the opportunity to revisit, revise, and, after the story is transcribed, to be read. If the person decides that her/his story should be known, this allows the story to be treated accordingly and to be shared in an open space, perhaps through the language of the theatre and of storytelling. This allows the listener to reflect on the story told and it may help him/her to better and more deeply understand, learn and discover something new about the other person, in this case, " the stranger ." What we did during the project is something that we had previously done, and it allowed us once again to sit, listen, discover details that we would not have imagined. We reflected on the empathic dimension that 37
can be generated by storytelling. This is the basis through which to begin to understand, to talk , to go beyond stereotypes. This method can be applied in any context. It is important that if you decide to use a narrative interview, that those who use it have done training that focusing mainly on the personal meanings that the narrative itself can bring. Finally, it was very useful in the Stranger project to know which narrative methods have been used in other contexts and in other countries, because this produces a movement of practices and ideas that can develop other methodologies.
Example of a stories told Albertina's story My name is Albertina Mustafa, I am 19 years old and I was born in Kosovo, a small country in the Western Balkans. I have lived in Italy with my family since 1998, when the war broke out in my country. In Kosovo, many ethnic conflicts took place, as it was part of former Yugoslavia, but it has always struggled for its own independence, due to the strong Albanian minority which is present in the region. My country has proclaimed its independence in February 2008. I've lived in Italy for 16 years and I'm currently studying and living in Pisa, where I am attending the first year of a degree in â€?Science for Peace: International Cooperation and Transformation of Conflictsâ€?. I saw this course as the only suitable for me among all those I had knowledge of during my choice; it is a very interactive course and it opens the doors to many working environments. We also study very interesting subjects, such as Law, Philosophy of Peace, Maths, and Sociology of Conflicts. I was born in Podujevo, in the northern part of the country. I lived my first years with my family, my mum and dad, my grandfather, two uncles and my aunt. I have wonderful memories of that period, above all I remember the rural landscape, the animals, the fields and my grandfather. My parents always recall that period as tough time, Kosovo was a poor country and there was no work. There was also much discrimination, and even studying was difficult, because universities were frequently shut down due to demonstrations. I came in Italy in January 1998. I was almost 4 years old when my mum and I joined my father who had been working for some years here in Italy, in Anghiari. We settled in my uncle's house, where I had two cousins of my age. The first memories I have are from the nursery 38
school, where everything was pleasing and colorful. I do not remember having any problems with the language, as a child I must have learnt it quickly. Months passed away, I remember the carnival party in the square, summer holidays at my relatives' in Switzerland and Christmas time when with my classmates we sang Christmas carols. At the beginning of 1999 news from Kosovo were getting worse, and we began to speak about a war.. We were already in Italy when the war broke out, and almost all of my family was still in Kosovo. In the beginning, they only talked about tensions and little attacks, but then in the news they began to speak about ethnic massacre, death and refugees, and we lost contact with our relatives. Those were hard times. We were not aware of anything and we lived of hope and endless phone calls, as we were desperate for news. My parents used to cry, and I didn't really understand what was going on. I didn't understand the word WAR. In June, we were informed that my grandfather had died from heart attack, and we left immediately after to go back; we entered in Kosovo with the refugees who were in Albania, and their eyes said it all. I could only see devastation, terror, sadness, and desperation in their eyes. The memories I have are clear, and I will never forget them… The war lasted about five months, and the following years were the ones of reconstruction, and we came back every year, we rebuilt our house and our country. Only as the years passed by did I really realize what had happened. I've strongly tried to grasp why those inequalities and hatreds were so settled in those places, as to lead up to a real genocide. At the end of the summer we came back to Italy, and we moved near Anghiari, in Sansepolcro. I was growing up, going to school and keeping on with my life, but my heart was still set in Kosovo. When the reconstruction of my country started, the hope for a better life aroused. In 2008, after junior high school, I decided to keep on with my social studies. I took Sociology, Psychology and Pedagogy at school, and I graduated last year. I have felt at ease since the very first years here in Italy, and I have been lucky enough not to be a victim of racism. At school, as well as in other environments, I have met sympathetic and welcoming people, who didn't make me feel like a “stranger”. In the last few years, I have been taking part to a festival organized by “ESPLORAZIONI”, an association I've been attending since three years, that every year dedicates three days to inter culture. The festival closes 39
with an event called â€?FESTA DEI POPOLIâ€?, where every ethnic group has the opportunity to make its voice heard inside the community, through dances, songs, or simple interventions, and in the end we eat all together! The atmosphere is magic; many people, many different faces, many colorful dresses, different languages and music of every kind! The most common expression is a smile. I fell in love with this festival when I was really young. I was going around the square asking why the stand of my country was missing. They told me that they couldn't find anybody available to organize it, so I arranged the presentation of my country by myself three years ago. In 2011, the festival was dedicated to Kosovo and Albania; we cooked typical dishes and we invited Albanian singer, closing with an amazing evening. I really found the association very welcoming, with so many open minded people who offered me lots of opportunities. Last summer I hosted the event, and it was exciting beyond words! I was there, on the stage, doing what I like the best, introducing different cultures in front of a city that was glad to invite them. The festival hosts every community, and it is an important moment of integration and union. We leave behind differences and face up to each other; all that matters is that we all are human beings, world citizens before being citizens of a country. I have come to understand lots of problems regarding inequalities, and the truth is that it is easy to hate that far cry from us; we're afraid about what is different, and we try to fight it diminishing and striking it down. In Yugoslavia, compulsory integration has been applied, without taking into account cultural traditions of different communities and, as a consequence, this has led up to a gradual disintegration. I have seen with the eyes of a child what the war brings. Racism, intolerance and inequalities only bring hatred, and hatred is difficult to fight. Thus, important and fundamental is to teach respect for differences, because differences enrich the world. These experiences helped me to choose my university studies. I chose a special course which is only in Pisa. Through this course I hope to figure out what are the mechanisms that lead to conflicts, to be able to transform them into peaceful coexistence. About my arrival and my stay here, I would say that I've lived in a foreign country without feeling a stranger, but still not perfectly integrated; perhaps the problem of the second generation is that we fail to figure out to which part we belong, but I am realizing that this is not a problem at all! It is also difficult to explain; I would cheer the Italian team in every 40
football match, but if it played against Kosovo, I would cheer Kosovo. The possibility to choose and feel of belonging to two different countries is the beautiful. However, when I speak with other people from Kosovo who live in Italy, different ways of thinking come up, as, for them, Italy is not a second home, but rather a moment of transition awaiting the return, which is difficult to date for everyone. My father always tells me that we arrived in Italy with the firm belief that one day, when we would have arranged our lives in Kosovo, we would go back. Now that belief has become a hope for all of us; we see Kosovo nearly as our ITACA, where we will go back one day, without knowing when. There are so many things that keep us tied to the country where we live: in the first work because it's very difficult to find a job in Kosovo, and especially maintaining a family with salaries that are around 300 â‚Ź per month. Also Education ,health care, social life, politics, everything works better in European countries. Kosovo still has to work hard to reach the European standards. However, even considering all those aspects, I would try to go back to my country of origin. I hope to find a job in the social environment. In Kosovo there are lots of opportunities in this setting: sex discrimination, domestic violence, integration between Serbian and Kosovan people, education for tolerance, ecology, etcâ€Ś through my studies I would give my contribution for a better society, where everybody could feel integrated, by educating for tolerance and respect. Perhaps I have great expectations for the future, but I would hope so too, and I would try.
Carmen's story: “The land of Dreams” My name is Carmen Meghes, I was born in Romania the 29^th November 1976. I am married with Marian, who is 43 years old. I have two children, my son is 18 years old and my daughter is 15 years old. I live in Sansepolcro since three years. I lost my father when I was 8 years old. When my father died, my mum worked a lot, she used to leave at 5 am in the morning and she came back 2 am, and we stayed almost all the time alone, watched by our neighbor who sometimes came down to see how we were. When our mother came back at 2 am, she used to cook on a black pan, bacon and scrambled eggs, she brought them to us and made us wake up, and said: “I want to see you eat at least once a day!”. If I close my eyes, I can smell that bacon. I have lived my childhood during the dictatorship of Ceausescu, I remember that our neighbors were Christians, we didn't know God yet, and when it was dark, they used to sing those songs aloud, and we could heard them throughout the building, it was the only time they felt free. Ceausescu didn't allow freedom, and we learnt I don't know how that if we put a can on the wall and then lean against our ear, we could understand the words. As we could listen the songs, but we didn't understand what they said, so there were moments in which we were waiting when the light was turned off with the jars already prepared near the wall, and immediately we put our ear against the jars to better understand what they were saying. It was our game, and we spent days and days to make this game. When I finished the high school, I moved in the autumn of that same year, with Marian, we heard about those journey to find a job and my husband's brother was already here. It was difficult because two years without your family, without receiving a picture, and with a phone call once a month… He left when my daughter was one years old and he hasn't seen her for two years. The night he came back, he told me: “You do not tell me that this is my daughter!”. I arrived in Italy for the first time to visit my husband, I came to Padua, then I came back, he was back for a whole year, then we decided to go back to Italy together. He said “come with me”, it was the biggest mistake we have made in our life, to leave without our children. My kids were with my mom, and then it was bad when we heard their stories, we when we went back we realized that our children were fine, but also awful: they went in the wardrobe to smell the perfume of my clothes, 42
took my pajama and put it, or they put the pillow over their face so Grandma did not hear them cry and did not worry about it. Today for me to see them growing up in a foreign country means to give them the opportunity to know another environment, to see if you can get used to it, to settle in another environment. I have always thought that the house is where there are mom and dad, and I wanted to prove to everyone that if the kids are with us, whenever they will find the home and I am happy because they have proved that they have settled down as best they can and they now see Romania as a holiday country and now when they say "I want to go home", they speak of their home in Italy. When I was in Romania there was a wonderful country called Sibiu , I have never been there, but I had heard so much about it, the stories of this country, a village with tall houses all close, with tiny streets, all made of stone, I have always wanted to go there, and I remember that our first relative who arrived here in Sansepolcro said: "It seems to be in Sibiu". And my heart jumped and I said, â€œBut I have come into the land which I wanted in my country, and now I see it in Italy ?". And this is Sansepolcro ... the land of dreams! In my opinion integration takes place from both sides, you cannot just talk about integration on the one hand, you cannot ask to be acceptedâ€Ś. Integration is walk into a store without feeling the look that you are a foreigner to enter and steal, it means that I go to a lawyer who gives me all the explanations that I need without thinking that there are things that I do not have to know because if I do hurt those who I have hurt me, integration means to me that there will come a day for my daughter to have eight in Italian, at school, because she deserves it, integration means that when you go to work and make your best, you will be paid as an Italian. For my future I would like, from the spiritual point of view that I will meet my children one day in heaven, from the material point of view, the moment that my children will find a social stability, the moment in which they will have a job and will be respected in the society in which they will struggled to be integrated.
ANGHIARI’S PHOTOGALLERY Photo: Giovanni Santi
TURKEY - KAHRAMANMARAS Hayat Bilder
ORGANISATIONAL INTRODUCTION Hayat Boyu Ilerleme Derneğ i – HAYATBILDER, Lifelong Progress Association – HAYATBILDER is a non-profit non-governmental organistaion (NGO) located in Kahramanmaraş, Turkey. The association organizes and implements activities that contribute to the development of society, especially in lifelong learning, self-development, public awareness on culture and arts. The majority of members of the association are teachers and young people. The association provides training courses and trainings on arts, graphic design, costume design, photography etc. for young people and for adults. The activities are implemented in collaboration with governmental and/or non-governmental organizations by approximately 300 voluntary participants. The association's Board of Directors consists of members who have experience in EU Lifelong Learning Programmes and Youth Programmes. We have a Youth House under our governance and this is the only Youth House in the city, where young people come together to engage and create in cultural, art, sports and other activities. They are also given courses any relevant issues.
Such a house makes a significant
contribution to their creativity, social conscious and personal development. Our organization is a member of Environmental Platform of the Province.
Methodology The current status and its analyse A briefing containing the introduction of the project was made for our association members to provide more information about the Stranger project and to adapt it. The participants were split into groups and each volunteer group negotiated with the street authorities in areas in which the 'strangers' live. In these negotiations, the problems migrants encounter and the precautions to be taken against these problems were established. The volunteers worked to demand the needs of the local public by informing them about the needs of the migrants, their neighbours and the project. As a result of these efforts, they have guided many foreign adults and children in different areas. The meetings being held The indigenous young people and the migrants came together on the chess, photography and painting courses being carried out in our organization once they gained information about the projects of our organization. Our members who volunteered to collect stories and on integration organized evaluation meetings. A representative of a local theatre group, talented in telling stories, presented a seminar to the participants. Education and interaction sessions have been made by psychologists and personal development experts within public institutions. The authorities of our organisation made the necessary negotiations with the local authorities to access any required permissions. The general gain and the strategy to be followed Those members who were shy or not forward in expressing their ideas have been helped to overcome this at the meetings that were held as a result of the mutual sharing process. One of the most important factors making the strangers feel at ease was that some of our volunteer members joined the meetings with their own parents. The sweet noises of the children have helped the meeting last in a more friendly way. The things we have gained here will be a guide and experience source to lead our future work. It must be kept in mind that each stranger has a different story for his/her own, that story is sometimes visible or sometimes it is in the deepest part of his/her heart and the necessary approach must be taken in accordance with those stories. The most important thing for the stories to be revealed is that they must have a good listener because everybody has stories in his/her life. 49
Challenges Faced/Obstacles Overcome It required a great deal of attention to work with those people who had to leave their country not because of their personal and social development but because of their life's being in danger. We had to be careful to this touchy situation and behave accordingly. When we took into account that they had many troubles, we faced the drawback that they didn't feel free about telling their feelings. But we tried to understand their position and the situation became almost normal for us.
Practical challenges Language The most significant challenge was that there wasn't a mutual language between our members and the strangers. We faced many obstacles in relation to communication. We felt relaxed upon meeting some groups who knew a little Turkish and English. They helped us to overcome language problem after focusing on our work. Arranging our meetings and the time at tent city where many Syrian refugees lived was not easy. Conseqeuntly, we frequently had to change our meeting times. The integration of our association members and the foreigners Some meetings were facilitated specifically to address a desire for integration and harmony among our association members, volunteers and the foreigners. We held acquaintance meetings among the young. We also had some meetings between the old and the young so we looked for some solutions for our needs. And we had some volunteers to address our all kinds of need. Future plans We are planning to arrange a language course for the foreigners after our evaluation. This work will be done with a project and sent to the local institutions that supply the grant. Courses are also being arranged for the young.
Examples of stories told Story 1 Name: Tahir from Syria Age:35 On 22nd September, 2014, we had to move to Kahramanmaras province in Turkey from Syria with our personal belongings that we were able to take with us due to a 'balls-up', in other words the war in our country. On the one hand, the war became unbearable and for my family's safety, we had to migrate here and on the other hand, we accept Turkey as safe and very close to us. We asked for help at the first border gate from Turkish authorities. After being enrolled, we could get into Turkey. It was very deep darkness for us, just because had no idea about what was waiting for us. Thanks to God, we don't have any kind of a problem. On the contrary, we are pleased and safe here. Within this period, both the authorities and public extremely stand by us. After we migrated here, I found my elder brother who was already in Turkey. For some time, we had to live together at the same house but you can guess that it is so difficult that two crowded families live in the same house. When I found a job, we decided to move to another house. But, of course ,we have language problems. We believe that we will overcome this problem because the people from all ages here are very eager to help us and they deal with our all kind of problems. Although there are some differences between our life-styles, we have the same religion and feel that it is a good advantage for us. We appreciate that there are many hospitable people here. And we are able to live here without feeling the problem of life safety. Now, we watch the situation in our country on TV and thanks to God, we feel lucky to have left there. And we wish and look forward to a peaceful, safe, healthy and comfortable life for my family. Story2 An immigration story from Greece Name: Halim Age: 91 We departed from the geography, which we were born on, in 1924 on the occasion of the Population Exchange between Turkey and Greece in 1924. I cannot remember those years since I was a little boy then, but I 51
was grown up with the stories of my father and my grandfather. We were both lucky to live with that generation, who were the heroes of the stories we were told, and unlucky to witness such sadness. Just think for a while: we left behind everything, even our memories and even the roots of our existence. I used to realize may father deep in though and I knew that he was thinking of Salonika then. Of course we were not the only family, which migrated from Salonika. During that process within several years, approximately 500.000 people migrated to Turkey and settled in different provinces of the country and we settled in Amasya / TURKEY. There was no cultural difference; because Salonika had been a city of the Ottoman Empire for years and our families had grown there based on Turkish and Islamic culture and traditions. For that reason, my family did not experience a problem of cultural adaptation when they arrived in Turkey. However they had the problems of leaving everything behind for a while. We did not have monetary problems either, because the government provided place for the migrants and helped them build their own houses and provided the migrants with job opportunities. Despite the fact that I was born in Salonika, I am pleased to have grown up in Turkey. If we had not migrated during that period, we would have been lost and assimilated within a different culture. Story 3 Name :Izabella from Hungary Age :33 I am Izabella from Hungary. I live in Turkey with my husband Husamettin- a Turkish man. The moment I came to Turkey in 2008, I met with Husam while we were working together in a same hotel. At first, I did not know so much about Turkey, the culture and the life. That's why, I did not want to give chance to Husam and I heard some bad things about relationship with men of eastern countries. Slowly I began to know him and we fell in love each other. But still, there were a lot of questions in my mind about the future. It was so difficult that we could not speak the same language so we created our own language from English, Hungarian, Turkish and German. And we used our body language and the â€œactivityâ€?. It was funny but the most important thing was that we understood each other very well. Suddenly, my job was over here and I had to turn back to Hungary. A very difficult time came into our life. We were so far from each other, but communicated through phone and internet every day. Later I wanted to come to Turkey to see Husam more time. Then t was easier to understand Husam. 52
If I wanted to come this country I had to travel here and only bought a visa for 15 or 2oEUR, but if Husam would like to come to me it was so difficult situation of the non EU country / Eu country laws and bureaucracy. One year later ,we made a decision and got married in Hungary. We had to solve a lot of situations, lots of paper works and face again the bureaucracy. My family loved him very much, but unfortunately lots of other people (friends, relatives and other with who we met in Hungary) had prejudice in connection with him and our marriage. Why? Because he is a Turkish man, a man from east, a man who is Muslim. Unfortunately most time ,the media told some bad stories about “mixed” relationships, about east and the people believed. Those prejudices were terrible! Our culture, religion and language were different but thanks to our love, we got over the difficulties. Following our marriage, we wanted to live in Hungary. My husband gave up his job in Turkey and began to live in Hungary. We tried to find a job to him, but unfortunately we could not find a proper one for a long time. Day by day, it became more and more a difficult situation for him. I saw that he was sad and it would be a problem for our relationship. For a man, it is more important to work, exspecially in his culture. I did not want to lose him. So we made a decision and came back to Turkey because he received more great offers to work. I have a good relationship with his family and we love each other. They are far from us. Sometimes this is a nice advantage for us but not always. I should learn more habits of them and their culture. We have been living for more than 2,5 years in Turkey, separately from his family. It is great because we can live as we wish and this way is easier to solve our differences such as our culture and habits. I love this beautiful, colourful country. The people here are so friendly and positive. I am a foreigner here, but I feel that the people like me. Of course, sometimes it not easy because of the culture . I am not Muslim but my husband is. This is a very colourful country and a religious country but in the meantime so modern. Turkish and Hungarian culture is different from each other but some points are similar: for example our “original” history, meals, our language, folkways etc. We are learning our language of each other. It is not so easy to find friends but slowly I have found some good friends and also a job. We have some plans for the future and we would like to have a baby. Probably we must face to other problems and situations, but we will solve it because we trust our love is strong enough. I like here and I've started to feel that Turkey is my second home. 53
Reflections on being a
ICR, Northern Ireland Storytelling is a challenging medium to work in when using oral or written testimonies as the primary medium of communication between strangers. Were this project to be developed further, and I see an immense value in this, there would be a very strong case for broadening out the concept of storytelling so that it included the visual, the musical and movement. This could also open the project to engage those who have different levels of communication skills so that the participants did not need to be adults who are articulate and ready to communicate using their own or a learned tongue. It has become clearer as a result of participating in this process that it is also the gaps in stories, the abstract parts of the narrative or that which isn't the most explicit, that allows us as strangers to connect with one another. Being able to dance, or make music, or paint a story can sometimes enable communication in a way that relying on language cannot and this is particularly useful when working with those whose stories are rooted in sadness, loss, separation and trauma. Being given the opportunity to think about this issue as a Stranger, and in so doing to experience life in remote and rural areas with different climates and cultural expectations than those in Northern Ireland, opened our eyes to some of the choices that have to be made by citizens that are not on the radar of people in our part of the world. It was surprising how easy it was to feel comfortable and simultaneously to feel uncomfortable in situations where it is not possible to explain yourself or be heard easily and to realise that you are always at risk of being misunderstood, or causing offence or hurt. WRI, Norway In a previous EU project (Voices across Boundaries, 2007-2009) where WRI, Teatro di Anghiari and Libera UniversitĂ dell'Autobiografia were partners, storytelling turned out to be an interesting tool that demanded further exploration. The focus for the project was marginalized and vulnerable groups, stigmatized identities and these groups' communication with the majority population. In The Stranger project we wanted to experiment with mixed groups composed of representatives from majority/minority populations to explore the potential of storytelling as a dialogue enhancing method. We were also interested in exploring the potential in storytelling in change and development processes in workplaces with employees from many countries. Being a Stranger partner has been interesting from various perspectives even if we did not achieve our main objectives. We have shared interesting experiences (not at least in Belfast) about storytelling as a tool for creating dialogues and seen that storytelling is an activity with broad appeal across many dividers. The partnership has been composed of organisations with different positions, professions, interests and activities. We think the journey was worth the effort. 56
Lom Public Library/Oppland County Library, Norway Oppland County and the municipality of Lom have experience an increasing number of immigrants recent years. Libraries are a natural meeting place in the local society. It is one of the public areas immigrants first seek when arriving to a new place. Asylum seekers and other immigrants are frequent users of the library. In order to promote social inclusion of marginalized groups and individuals of different cultural backgrounds, we wanted to explore new methods of developing libraries as inclusive arenas and facilitate intercultural dialogue. Being a partner in a project like The Stranger has given us new perspective and new methods. Cooperating across sectors and countries, as we have been doing in The Stranger has been incredibly valuable to us. Our partners have presented different approaches and solutions that have been inspiring us in our work with libraries in Norway. Ass. Culturale Compagnia Teatro Stabile di Anghiari, Anghiari, Italy To be involved in a project like this, it means a lot for a theatre/educational organization like ours. First, to increase and get a wider point of view about being different "strangers" in the same European "case". We got a fantastic chance to explore the 'playground' of our new partners (especially the Nothern Irish) and the unique opportunity to go in deep in the relations with the old ones (AFI-WRI). Even if we have faced some little breakdown of communication along the road, we learned fundamental lessons from our partners that we transferred in our current workplaces. Hayat Boyu Ilerleme Dernegi, Kahramanmaras, Turkey We, as the Association, carry out activities in our region within the scope of the project on social and cultural issues. Thanks to the â€œStranger Projectâ€? we had the opportunity to work with the groups, who have not taken place in our projects in the past. Such new meetings helped us to expand our target group portfolio and to establish wider and more creative ideas for our future projects. Story telling activity within our project helped the participants express themselves in a more sincere way. To participate in the project as an association contributed our studies in the field of adult education and helped us act as a guide on this issue. We had the opportunity to learn different perspectives and current situation regarding the position and role of strangers living in different countries; we had the opportunity to get to know alternative approaches.
Reflections around the process in
Work Research Institute, Oslo How well do you think the project was implemented compared to the plan? The objectives of the partnership were stated in the application section D.3., page 40: 1. To explore and assess narrative methods for challenging stereotypes. 2. To involve members of the majority population and minority groups in sharing stories about being and meeting a stranger. 3. To exchange experiences between the partners 4. To make a booklet with stories and guidelines for how the technique can be used in a number of different settings. 5. Improve and extend methods for development of inter-cultural dialogues between minorities and the majority population When commenting upon the partnership's achievements in general, we have to bear in mind that each partner operated in their specific local settings and the process and results therefore differ from setting to setting. As a whole, the partnership addressed and did progress on most objectives. It seems that most problems were connected objective no 2. The creation of â€“ at least lasting - common meeting places and a common ground between representatives for the majority and minority population was difficult to achieve with the available resources and time span of the project. The exchanges of ideas and experiences with various models, methods, examples and knowledge about storytelling as a tool for social integration purposes, were however quite useful. Language problems were an obstacle that to a certain degree limited the scope and level of the discussions. What were the main barriers to implementation? The partners met different barriers in their local settings. In general, we think the main barriers were language problems, local recruitment problems and lack of experience with storytelling methodology. In your opinion, to what extent did the project create a common ground between the participants? The partnership created to a certain extent a common ground between the partners. Various off program activities were efficient ways to build relations and get to know each other. 59
What do you think about the level of commitment in the partnership? The topic of the partnership created commitment among the partners. To some extent we think the level of commitment was related to the partners' type of profession, mastery of the working language, interests and previous experience with the topic of the partnership. What do you think about the level of participation in the partnership meetings and between the meetings? Our experiences from previous partnerships of similar type indicate that some partners tend to be more active than others in various phases of the project. The same pattern has been repeated in this partnership, possibly reflecting the partners' various interests, knowledge and experiences. What would you do to make your next partnership function better than this one? The Stranger partnership “lost” two important partners in the application process and the partnership was reduced from seven to five partners. It has been difficult to plan Grundtvig Partnerships in any detail because the way the application process has been designed. One can never be sure which and how many partners who will get their application granted. Therefore, one always risk ending up with a reduced and different partnership than you planned with. Partners that were assigned key roles in the planned partnership cannot participate and this strongly impacts upon the available resources and opportunities in the partnership. Future partnerships therefore have to be planned in such a way that “reduced” partnerships are sustainable. The previous weakness with the Grundtvig partnership application processes have however been repaired in the LLP programs successor – Erasmus Plus. Better planning and agreed upon allocation of tasks in the partnership, would in our opinion also have improved the partnerships level of functioning. As it were, it was left to each partner to prioritize, “find their way” and implement local versions of the partnership in their local settings. A more coordinated approach might have produced a better process and better results.
Institute for Conflict Research, Belfast What were the main barriers to implementation? The programme provided us with a series of challenges in terms of defining what we understand by the concept of being a Stranger. Through a series of activities undertaken within the different regions as part of the mobilities we were able to evidence that each partner responds in different ways to the diverse opportunities they have when working on Storytelling with Strangers. Language and the nuances of meaning within both language and cultures have to be carefully considered throughout the implementation process. For those partners, such as Northern Ireland who worked mainly with Strangers who had the same linguistic but different cultural backgrounds, decodifying the use of language through the nuances of expression, meaning and interpretations can be as challenging as those who worked in translation. This was as relevant to us as partners as it was to us as programme deliverers. In your opinion, to what extent did the project create a common ground between the participants? The programme provided us with very tangible opportunities to connect and explore common ground in a variety of ways: over our experiences of common thematic issues; by looking country by country at overarching structural challenges and those relating to age, gender, and social class; by providing much needed spaces to discuss and engage in exploratory conversations in 'alien' environments. What do you think about the level of commitment in the partnership? Different partners brought different strengths and challenges to the partnership. Consequently some partners were more difficult to engage with than others for a variety of reasons. To address this, the Northern Ireland team sought on occasion to connect with different partners by attending bi-lateral meetings with all of the partners. We were able to realise this with three of the four partners but not so in others due to partners' existing commitments. We found the lead partner to be particularly accommodating in supporting this chosen way of working. What do you think about the level of participation in the partnership meetings and between the meetings? The Northern Ireland team is very happy with our own level of participation in activities and communication with other partners. We 61
recognise the value of Drop box and other new media and communication tools in realising inter-meeting communication. What would you do to make your next partnership function better than this one? Schedule Skype meetings on a regular basis to ensure that we revisit the aims and expectations of all partners on a regular basis. Make contingencies so that participants are aware of structured 'Plan Bs' if anticipated programmes that are scheduled for country visits cannot be adhered to.
Oppland County Library, GjĂ¸vik and Lom Public Library, Lom How well do you think the project was implemented compared to the plan? We feel that implementation of the project locally in Oppland worked out as we expected. The challenge has been to involve both members of the majority population and minority groups in the project. In this project and similar projects, our experience is that involving people from the majority population is difficult because they don`t have an incentive to attend. Recruiting Norwegians who haven`t already a positive attitude towards the minority groups are difficult. Minority groups in Oppland County are mainly immigrants. They are easier to involve. They don`t have big families and many friends in Norway and want to build a new network here. Also opportunities to practice the Norwegian language, is an incentive for immigrants. Even if there weren't many representatives from the majority populations, Lom public library managed to create an inter-cultural dialogue. What were the main barriers to implementation? An important barrier in the implementation of the local project was the participant`s language skills, transportation to the library and to manage to get the participant to attend all the meetings. Little experience with storytelling as a method of creating dialogue was also a barrier. The library staff is used to being storytellers, but they don`t have the same experience making other people tell their story. The project group had to learn along the way, and running a similar project later will probably be much easier. In your opinion, to what extent did the project create a common ground between the participants? I think we managed to create a common ground. The project objectives 62
and strategy as described in the application made it easy to know what we had agreed on and what our goal were. What do you think about the level of commitment in the partnership? In my experience there`s been a high level of commitment in the partnership. Even some of the partners, ourselves included, have experiences troubles keeping deadlines when it comes to written contributions we still feel that the partners have been committed to the project. What do you think about the level of participation in the partnership meetings and between the meetings? We find that the participation in the partnership meetings has been relatively good. There`s been a lot of enthusiasm and involvement at the meetings. We also find that all the project managers have participated in the communication between the meetings. One thing we miss in the project is more information between the partners about local projects. We`ve only updated each other on progress at the partner meetings. What would you do to make your next partnership function better than this one? The project description from the application and the time schedule and distribution of responsibility agreed on at the first partner meeting should initially lead to a very good project. Good planning is a key element to a good project, and we find that this project had a good plan. There will always be changes during a two year period and the need for alterations will appear. A way to make next partnership function even better could be to have even more meetings between the project managers. Maybe video conferences could be something to consider in other projects.
Hayatbilder Association, Kahramanmaras How well do you think the project was implemented compared to the plan? We are in the opinion that we implemented the project in utmost level in accordance with the project plan on institutional base. Of course, some obstacles we faced have slowed down the implementation process and forced us to make more effort to reach the end. There made concrete positive changes by applying different methods and techniques in project work. 63
What were the main barriers to implementation? We had to create mutual areas of work with the foreigners living in our region in the purpose of our project. This situation caused us to have some problems while carrying out the project. The problems were such as approach, language and communication problems with them who had to come to the region. In your opinion, to what extent did the project create a common ground between the participants? The project helped institutions to have more information about each other and prepare the basis of an international cooperation for the future activities of them. It helped us to have alternative approaches by having opinions about the activities, approaches and techniques of our project partners and especially our local partners dealing with the projects for foreigners. What do you think about the level of commitment in the partnership? We see that we get effective results when the partners are organized and directed well. It was very important to come to a mutual agreement during the decision making. This increased the cooperation among us. What do you think about the level of participation in the partnership meetings and between the meetings? We think that the participation could be organized better in partnership meetings. It was a negative point that some partners couldn't join some activities and couldn't be represented. What would you do to make your next partnership function better than this one? Firstly, we would work again with Steinar and Katy. We would organize project partnership analysis better in local benefitting from their institutional experiences and personal work techniques and we would create a powerful communication network to get better results. We would arrange the time plans for activities in three or four days. We think that project partners and workers must spend more time with each other. Ass. Culturale Compagnia Teatro Stabile di Anghiari, Anghiari How well do you think the project was implemented compared to the plan? (Plan = the description in the application) The project has been very useful to know (and to explore) different approach to the same arguments. We have exchanged experiences and shared in-depth methods related to the objectives of the project. We appreciated the commitment of the partners to challenge stereotypes in 64
their own 'framework', to disseminate better methods for development of inter-cultural dialogues between the majority and minority population. The milestones of The Stranger project have been well implemented compared to the plan, despite some lack of communication probably due to available resources compared to the huge number of people involved (stranger/immigrants). Language was sometime a problem, especially for the development of an intercultural dialogue between the minorities and the majority population. We try to overcome this gap through other languages: theatre, music and, in one word: storytelling What were the main barriers to implementation? The main barriers were language problems and a different experience with storytelling methodology as a start. This difference was almost overcome through multilateral workshop In your opinion, to what extent did the project create a common ground between the participants? Looking back to our past projects, this partnership created a new approach to set (and build together) a common ground between the partners. We established and carried on together a program full of activities and workshops that have given a sense of unity to the groups What do you think about the level of commitment in the partnership? This project showed a remarkable commitment among the partners. The different professional experiences and skills have been a great resource What do you think about the level of participation in the partnership meetings and between the meetings? It's not easy at all to keep alive a project between the meetings, but the experience of coordinator (AFI) has been very useful to keep it alive step by step. Of course, there are different ways to approach to a meeting, probably due to the various experiences and expectations What would you do to make your next partnership function better than this one? We found some difficulties along the road and we tried to resolve them the best we could. It was interesting (though sad) to invite a young Kosovan to join a project called "The Stranger" and to see her stopped and sent back at the Pisa airport, because she was a "stranger". We are storytellers and we use to work with life stories, so we would like to get in the future the chance to give a performing feedback (theatre, video and music) of what we did in the project. It could be interesting to develop intercultural dialogue through setting/building new venues and places to let the people meet together. 65
Reflections on the Programme and Process To enable an evaluation of the programme, a reflective session coordinated by facilitators from Ireland with expertise in storytelling programmes, was scheduled during the final partnership meeting in Anghiari. This allowed participants to reflect on the Process as experienced. All partners agreed that engaging in 'Process' was as valuable as 'Product' on this programme and felt that the findings from this session could be usefully drawn on when designing and delivering any extension of this or a related programme. By way of summary of that session: Positive operational aspects and outcomes were identified as follows: - The building of relationships between the partners and the ability to discuss challenging issues and come to a resolution was seen as a key development. - The diversity of the partners, coming from public, voluntary, and cultural bodies brings together different and complementary ways of working. - The diversity of the site visits which took place at the different partner country meetings were inspirational and enabled further debate, adaptation and consideration of the process. - Modelling good practice was a helpful methodology. - The co-ordination and oversight provided by the lead a Partner was valued. - Those partners new to storytelling as a methodology found it a significant learning experience which they were applying elsewhere as a direct result of the programme. - Those Groups which succeeded were managed well and sought to continue working together. - The Stranger was an apt title. At one level the partners arrived themselves as strangers with different experiences under one title- An inclusive concept. Overall reflections and opportunities for change: - The concept of 'story' telling is a complex one that became more apparent throughout the delivery of the project. There would be benefit in dedicating time clarifying and debating what are the differences in each cultural context between Storytelling, Stories, , Life Story, Autobiography and Reminiscence work. 68
Space for reflection and the creative process needs to be factored into work as sometimes the beurocracy connected to the operational practicalities was felt to reduce creativity. Continuity in attending meetings is essential to good communication, team building and an ongoing buy in to and understanding of the programme. The loss of partners at the start impacted on the project's design, delivery and outputs. Being able to honour the local story in a global context can be problematic, particularly when editing a narrative for publication. There was a question as to how to take difficult narratives and help them make sense outside of the locale. Language and translation challenges resulted in the anticipated evaluation framework and the use of shared technology such as Drop Box proving problematic and therefore was not adhered to by participants and became a challenge.
What we would change next time - Be more aware of the practical difficulties of arranging meetings between the agencies in each country. - The need to visit all the projects to learn from them but also in terms of recognising their role in the programme. - The need to understand all the learning outcomes even when projects didn't come to fruition - Bearing in mind time to consider language difficulties and the cultural nuances in terms of the partners working together and the projects - Being mindful of the ethics and different contexts within each partner's communities / country - Being mindful that each group/organisation / community is working at different stages and this will affect the design and delivery of the approach Future ideas: There was a strong desire to consider what might happens next. Erasmus + opens again in 2015 and looks like a possible funding source. In moving forward it was recognised that the actual process of partnership can benefit from being facilitated by agencies outside the project delivery partners. 69
The following areas were mentioned as possible interests: - The experience of young women who are socially isolated or excluded for a variety of reasons - Trans-generational programmes that look at traditional arts and crafts and connect older people with younger ones. - The Irish/Italian connection. - Exploring other forms of communication, not just verbal. - Could the project be showcased at some of the local festivals in the future? - The experience of the stranger â€“ why does a host community 'estrange ' a subsection of the community and for what purpose?
Links to related organisations and projects www.healingthroughremembering.org Focus on the ethics and principles of storytelling. www.belfastfriendshipclub.org www.thejunction-ni.org Ethical remembering in the context of contested histories. The Sherazade project: http://www.sheherazade.eu/en/content/sheherazade UNESCO on storytelling: http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf/mods/theme_d/mod 21.html Libera UniversitĂ dell'Autobiografia- Focus on autobiography, selfwriting and collecting stories: www.lua.it Rete Teatrale Aretina â€“ A network of professionists of theatre and storytelling
www.reteteatralearetina.it Archivio dei Diari - An archive that contains more than 7000 autobiographical texts of common people www.archiviodiari.it
STRANGER Storytelling and experiences of being “strangers”
Published on Sep 30, 2014