"Become aware what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

20 April 2015

Day 17 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge: Q is for Qisetna

Q is for Qisetna

Qisetna: Talking Syria is, according to its founders, "a non-political social and cultural project aiming to engage Syrians and people with a connection to the country to share their stories. It provides a reminder of the humanity of ordinary Syrians through their relationship with arts, culture, sport and places. " In short, it's a blog for stories from, about, and by Syrians and related others.

I was introduced to the project by one of its editors and founders, Julia Rampen, the London-based journalist and writer who contacted me for advice on a storytelling project working with refugee children in Syria. As you can imagine, many of these children are traumatized by the violence and poverty, not to say anything of the terrible angst of losing parents, siblings, pets, and other members of their families. Imagine how that horror is compounded by the thought that no one cares or wants to hear your story.

Julia Rampen, Editor of Qisetna
Julia and her colleagues created the (bilingual) blog to provide a safe space for Syrians to share their stories and for the international community to read and respond. The blog is simple to navigate. Stories are arranged by subject, each reflecting what Syrians love about their country -- its music, food, places, the arts, sport, among others. This is not the place for political discussion or debate but a home to stories about home, about place, about family, about loss, about dreams for peace.

In one of the recent stories entitled "My Bicycle", a young student from Damascus describes how she learned to ride a bicycle and how that opened up the city to her, offering her freedom, and saving her expensive bus fare to the university. She also meets new people who encourage her freedom, seeing her choice as environmentally-friendly and healthy. One passer-by remarks, "You’ll build and develop this country with your great ideas…”

The stories on Qisetna are timely reminders that people everywhere share much in common -- love of their community, their children, their parents, their friends. Like all of us, they desire freedom, education, opportunities to work and play, to live their passions, to fall in love, to speak freely.  I encourage you to visit the blog at www.talkingsyria.com and sign up to their monthly newsletter. Stories need ears, eyes, and hearts. As the late poet Maya Angelou once noted, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story within." Read and share these stories with others. Support Qisetna's work and let Syria's people know they are not alone.

Thank you.

Images: Hussein Alazaat, Patrick M, via Creative Commons

Check out the Qisetna: Talking Syria Facebook site.

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"We have received only very positive reports of your workshop, and must thank you for being so flexible and responsive both before and in the course of implementing the workshop. It has been lovely to work with you. . . . We are hopeful this project will give rise to future storytelling endeavours, and would be very happy to work with you again if the opportunity arises!" Muireann Crowley, At Home in Scotland, University of Edinburgh, May 2014 ("Storytelling, Research and Public Engagement" workshop)

Michael Williams is a a storyteller of compelling skill. He is also a fine human being who engages in all situations and draws people into the warmth of communication and shared experience." Donald Smith, Director, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Scotland

"Michael's understanding of storytelling within a leadership and business context has helped us provide a great service in helping leaders determine their personal and organisational destiny and legacy. Working with Michael is inspiring and fun; and pulls you to be fully engaged from start to finish." Norton Bertram-Smith, Managing Director and Leadership Consultant for On Purpose.

Kamink: the little boy who grew into a giant of a man

Blues and Roots Radio

Blues and Roots Radio
Check out my weekly storytelling radio show, The Teller and the Tale on bluesandrootsradio.com.

Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland
I'm grateful to Creative Scotland for its support.