Storytelling: No Campfire Required

Ghana

Storytelling is powerful. Storytelling, both positive and negative, is one of the most powerful of all human capabilities. It’s a powerful tool to inspire and motivate people. I am in the job of inspiring and motivating. Anyone who has seen me on Twitter knows this to be true.

When you want to influence others, there is no tool more powerful than story. – Annette Simmons

In the age of google, spreadsheet, databases, research and technology that changes at the speed of light I know that people want data.  Data can equal funding and be the difference between a program living or dieing. Donors, the media, participants, politicians, corporations- all of them want hard data showing that  their product matters and is impactful.

I am a lover of good hard data that shows impact and resources being leveraged.  As a program designer  and administrator, stretching dollars and resources is my responsibility.  It’s one I take very seriously. Nothing makes my day more than being able to show how a program I designed and implemented helped a community or a cause.

But lets be honest… Data is often boring to the average person and reports are filled with lingo and jargon that only folks in that industry understand. Storytelling is probably the single most important communication tool we have in the transformation of communities.  One on one storytelling with friends and family,colleagues and alliances about a volunteer experience you participated in changes lives.  It’s an opportunity for us to “bear witness” to what we have seen, touched, tasted and smelled. It’s an opportunity to share that with others.

I was visiting a rural village in Ghana and had the opportunity to visit the local school. This school had hundreds of children with very few teachers or resources and it was a privilege for myself and the other volunteers to be invited in to their world, if only for a short time. We went from class to class, meeting the students, seeing their smiles as they looked at these crazy foreign folks and hearing about the lessons they were learning. The last class we entered was a government mandated computer class.

Umm… Did I mention the village had no electricity? It’s really hard to teach kids computers skills when you have no electricity in your classrooms. This teacher, like teachers around the world, worked with what he had… chalkboard and chalk.  Imagine what he could do with actual computers. Imagine if that’s how your children were being taught computers.

I feel like it’s my duty to tell his story and the story of those children trying so hard to get a basic education. I tell this story to help create awareness. If you are interested in learning more about this community and potential ways you can help, let me know.

You can also use story telling to raise funds and other needed resources, or recruit new volunteers.  Remember, good stories always share and invite you in to participate in the next chapter. No matter why you’re telling the story, at the end of the story you want people to be moved to action, asking you what  can they do to help and how soon can they start!

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