Just Discussions

Since November 2014, participants have gathered several times to discuss the power of sharing our stories with each other and methods of telling engaging stories.

Here are some of the ways we have engaged in dialogue with each other about how to share with others so that we may offer glimpses of the realities of our lives and learn from the realities of the lives of others as well as empower each other’s voices.

 Word Association Ice Breaker

Participants stood in a circle and each individual said their name and one word they think of when they hear the word, “story”.

Some of the responses given included, “personal”, “adventure”, “mine”, and “emotional.”

We discussed the patterns in the words we gave as responses and talked about the very personal nature of story-telling. What do our stories reveal about us? What do they say about who we have been? What do they say about who we want to be?

Drawing Perceptions

Each participant had a piece of paper. On one side of the blank sheet, we drew our vision of the other culture. What do we see when we think of that place and society? On the other side of the sheet, we drew a picture of our own culture. We discussed what our pictures of the other culture revealed about prejudices and preconceived ideas. The pictures of our own culture can show what we value most about where and how we live, and therefore, the story and image we want to share with others about the realities of our lives.

Illustrated Life Timeline

In order to help workshop engaging stories to share, participants each created an illustrated timeline of their life, from birth to present day. Everyone was encouraged to include at least 5 events from their life that they felt were the most important or formative. For example, we thought about what moments had made us most afraid? What moment did we feel most proud of ourselves, our culture, or our identity?

Example Memoir Excerpts

An important aim of the blog is empowering female voices. What better way to do this to learn from other female voices? Participants are encouraged to read memoirs written by women from around the world. We also read over excerpts to aid our discussions of what makes an engaging story. Specifically, we looked at excerpts from Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, and Tasting the Sky by Ibtisam Barakat.


Facebook has enabled us to continue the conversation after our workshops end and across the geographical distance. We have a shared group on which we can share interesting videos and interviews. Here are two things we have shared on Facebook and discussed outside of our time together:

StoryCorps Interview – A powerful interview between Yusor Abu-Salha –one of the victims of the recent murders of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina –  with her 3rd grade teacher, Mussarut Jabeen. Mussarut Jabeen also returned to StoryCorps recently to talk about Yusor’s death.

“Breaking out of Prison” by Honey Thaljieh

Please, carry on the conversation in your lives and circles as well. What can we learn from the stories of others? How do we tell meaningful, powerful stories? How can we share with each other in ways that empower and affirm rather than discourage and create distance.


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