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Suitcase Stories builds safe youth communities that heal trauma through sharing and performing their life stories in refugee camps/center

Suitcase Stories builds safe youth communities that heal trauma through sharing and performing their life stories in refugee camps/center

Photo of Jolien Dirven
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Jolien commented on Learning Pal

Thanks, Madiha Ahmed for notifying me of your ' idea inclusive' solution to the challenge.
I do really like that you are trying to create an 'umbrella solution' that incorporates the different solutions.
It is definitely a compatible advantage if we, with our different background and expertise, collaborate to really open source and co - innovate, after that's what these platforms are for!

When I try to link Suitcase Stories into your idea, the first thing that comes to mind is that it could be at the start of the 'education through peers who are mentored online' process. The program could be run and achieve the followign:
- build a safe and positive community as a platform for the education program
- enhance wellbeing and resilience which are fundamental to later on really benefit from education
- facilitate the necessary skills ( confidence, public speaking, self- awareness, critical thinking, collaborating etc. ) to the youth so they can later teach their peers and/or facilitate the program themselves.
- connect to the wider community of mentors/teachers that they will access via facebook/ portal systems etc.

After the first program in a specific location it could ramify, branch out as the peers from the first program start to facilitate the following ones.

About the Curriculum, I think that the education offered needs to be both Relevant and Useful and need to have immediate ' return of investment' to interest as many youth ( and their parentts ) as possible.
I believe that the Finnish Education system of teaching around ' phenomena' would be the best choice as a solution for the challenge.

What I visualize is, say it takes place at a refugee camp in the middle east, if through projects that actually improve the site/facilities/services at the camp the children/youth are educated ( they will apply science, math, geography, history etc.) it will be visible and more will join. Plus it will give thim life skills next to knowledge. as a next step, if they are laptops made available and powerpoints, they could write reports/essays/proposals on the projects and outcomes and reflect on the group processes and present to make the education more academic. Ultimately if they could then get a recognised diploma of some sort, perhaps a high school one that is accepted to get into college; the most promising students could get rewarded a scholarship to study at a university ( and bring their family ).

Thos are my thoughts so far :)


Jolien commented on Suitcase Stories

Hi Madiha Ahmed,
Thanks for your response. I will try to clarify all of your points.
- Every location that will run the program will get one large suitcase, a stage mat and a ' manual' ( will have to be developed). In the big suitcase will be many small suitcases, i'm thinking foldables so that there can be around 50 in there, enough to run 2 programs. ( They could run silmultaniously if many teenagers are interested in joining). These small cases will be empty: the participants can fill their own suitcase with artefacts, notes, personal items etc. that are part of their story. These can be imbedded in the script and used in the the performance, but that's up to the participants. Either way it will be a memory of the process that they can hold on to ( as a performance isn't an artefact you can frame and hang above your head). I looked at the story telling for change project, the 'storytelling techniques' are defenitely part of this because those are key elements to acting and performing that the refugees will learn as part of this process.
- it's not so much about training, it's more about learning through sharing stories, acting and performing them which is a process that will enhance a lot of skills, help heal trauma, build confidence, self-awareness and hope and a sense of belonging. So to come to the next point: this process has 2 goals, the refugee's process is the main one, but by sharing the results you do influence people and educate them. By performing it in their wider community say in the refugee camp / asylum centre the audience also get's that sense of belonging and could be inspired to tell their story. By filming and broadcasting it it could reach wider audiences in the first world who would than be educated and changed in their perspective on refugees and perhaps ultimately support refugees. But the core is the therapeutic, skill enhancing and wellbeing for the participants.
Former participants can than be mentors in the next program to support the new participants or maybe ultimatly run the program themselves.

The current shape relies havily on human capital ( theatrical, counseling) and only requires the suitcase/stagefloor as physical props. It doesn't require technical expertise at all. Perhaps the filming/broadcasting part.
It's is defintely financially viable. To start the program I would employ some professional Directors/theatre makers and counselors to create the manual and run the first programs in different places, where each of them can teach locals to run the program themselves ( leaern them how to fish, don't just give the fish )either as volunteers or paid.
Suitcase Stories is very cost - effective and impacts many stakeholders.

the space it would require is the measurements (length and width) of a standard stage/ rehearsal room. 40 m2 on average would be fine. The thing is there is no requirement for a room perse, it could be a tent or just a piece of land/gras on which the stagefloor-mat can be layed on.

if you have any more questions, please let me know :)



Jolien commented on Suitcase Stories

Hi Ashely Tillman,
Thanks for your response.
I have visited Treehouse Theatre, interviewed the founders, witnessed a rehearsal and a performance as part of my research, but I don't work for them.
Basically they run these 14 week rehearsals with the refugees through the IEC in Western Sydney, where they tell their stories ( supervised by a counselor ) which than get's turned into a script and staged by the director and performed at the end of the rehearsal period. I would call this the 'core element of the proposal.
I recently watched the performance and it was very powerful, both for the refugee's and for the audience. I really believe in this concept and the positive impact it has and therefore I would like to either collaborate with Threehouse or ( with their permission ) copy the core concept and implement it within my concept
Which is distinguishes from their programs on the following points:

- the application of this process in different contexts ( refugee camps/ asylu centers ),
-A greater scale
- create a ' suitcase' package with the big and small cases, the Stage mat and manual.
- broadcasting the performance ( film, can be in any shape from documentary to social media),

I will definetely notify Treehouse Theatre on my ideas and see if they are interested to collaborate!