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Intercultural Workshop – Buidling Bridges

Once upon a time, a long, long, long time ago…

My colleague and I headed to Touwsranten for a third time to run another Our Story Your Story workshop. We knew that we were in for some hard work because of the challenges we encountered leading to the workshop.  The aim for the intercultural workshop was to bridge the gap that existed in this small community. These communities live 5 minutes from each other, yet they never interact or connect with each other and we hoped to change that.

Day one fast approached, and when the participants came into the space, they all looked nervous and some did not know what to expect. The room was filled with people from all walks of life, not only were they from different places (Touwsranten, Hoekwil and Diepriver), but they were also from different races, classes and came with a variety of different experiences. Never having done anything like this before, we did not know what to expect and how it would all turn out.

What stood out immediately was that this was no ordinary workshop, we had a diverse group of people but at the same time we were all the same. We learnt that as humans we share so much. We all know pain, we all laugh, we all love and we’ve all faced struggles. Through storytelling, perceptions were challenged, masks came off and deep hidden closets were opened. A group of extremely diverse human beings learnt about each other, and learnt to connect through the sharing of their life stories. One participant said “I was quite surprised by this whole process…it was a wonderful experience and something I can definitely share with my children” while another said “this process was so important because it brought us, communities from different places, together. So many times, we live pass each other but this has taught me to really see people and know that they all have a story.”

In their final performance, they shared these diverse stories to the broader community. It was a fun filled evening with 40 people attending. Many people all agreed that the evening was wonderful and that they learnt so much from these storytellers. One spectator said, “I learnt that one is never too old to learn, and tonight I saw how powerful stories are in passing down wisdom and life lessons”, while another spectator said, “Sharing stories is so important because we often judge each other without getting to know what each person’s story is.”

All in all, it ended up being a very enlightening experience with many participants leaving excited for the future and invested in taking small steps to continue to connect with each other and bridge gaps.

Simone Peters