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February 21, 2020

This NGO creates empathy through storytelling

topic: Human Rights
type: Donation, Education, NGO, Project
by: Yair Oded

One of the major hurdles to peace-building and social justice are the divisive narratives circulating around the news and social media, 'othering' and separating people and communities from one another. 

Focusing on our shared humanity and values and empathising with one another on a profound level could completely alter the way in which we resolve conflicts and interact with one another - both on a personal and societal scale. 

Narrative 4 is an international non-profit organisation that uses storytelling and art in order to inspire students to empathise with one another and empower them to improve their communities. 

The organisation currently operates in four continents, twelve countries, and 18 U.S. states, and facilitates workshops in which students are exposed to stories of people from different backgrounds or communities.

Narrative 4’s primary method is story exchange, in which two people are paired up and learn about each other’s story in-depth. They then present one another’s stories to the group as if they are the other person. This activity is followed by a discussion of all the participants in which they reflect on the experience of inhabiting another person’s world. 

“Using our core methodology, the story exchange, we help students understand that their voices, stories, actions and lives matter, and that they have the power to change, rebuild or revolutionize systems,” the organisation's website reads, “The story exchange is a powerful model based on the belief of Narrative 4’s founding authors. They understand that we will see the world, and ourselves, more emphatically through the exchange of personal narratives. Today, this belief is supported by the work of neuroscientists, as well as by the experiences of story exchange participants.” 

Narrative 4’s facilitators make sure that the activities take place in a safe space, where each of the students feels comfortable to open up and be vulnerable. This gives others an opportunity not only to step into another person’s shoes, but walk in them for a while and see how it feels.

If you wish to host or help organise a Narrative 4 workshop, learn about ways in which to join and support their team, contribute your skills as a writer or pledge a donation - please visit their website

Image: Narrative 4 website