Kicking off a digital storytelling journey

In December of 2023, our Erasmus+ Youth Project “Digital Storytelling for Active Citizenship: Empowering Youth Through Migration Narratives” in collaboration with Cooperative 3E began with a fantastic kick-off event in Vaasa, Finland. The project is designed to support young people in better understanding complex issues like migration, diversity, and inclusion by strengthening their media literacy and digital storytelling skills and is funded by the Erasmus+ program of the European Commission.

The entire Erasmus+ group at the end of the kick-off

The program brings together twelve youth of various backgrounds – six of which reside in Berlin, Germany and six in the Ostrobothnia region of Finland. The six Berlin participants and two Migration Matters staff members, co-founder Sophia Burton and digital storytelling trainer Lee Lester, traveled to Vaasa to meet their Finland-residing counterparts. Together, we engaged in three exciting days of learning and cultural exchange centered around challenging the dominant narratives of migration and diversity in their communities.

Starting with a visit to the Migration Centre of Swedish-speaking Finland, the Berlin group learned about the local history of the region and how bilingualism and changing borders over time have created a rich tapestry of culture. From there they united with the Finland group to dive into the workshops that would allow the journey of creating their own digital stories on migration to begin.

Getting instructions for the Vaasa treasure hunt

From a town-wide treasure hunt to brainstorming presentations in Vaasa Main Library, thought-provoking sessions continued in which participants highlighted the dominant migration narratives perpetuated in today’s society, and reflected on the theme of diversity and inclusion in the context of migration.

As the group bonded further and our different life experiences began to emerge, we moved on to explore inspirational digital storytelling examples, an empathy-led approach to storytelling, and how each participant might begin choosing the subject they’d like to focus on for their own story.

Discussing migration narratives in the German and Finnish contexts

Having explored the complex issues around the topic of migration, been inspired by the power of digital storytelling and the uniqueness each participant brought and will continue to bring to this 10-month program, the weekend concluded with a bowling excursion and participants sharing their appreciation for each other.

In the coming months, the participants will dig deeper into solutions-journalism, digital storytelling techniques, and migration and media in the European context. We will hold a series of online workshops and trainings and then meet again in person in April 2024 in Berlin. The project will culminate in summer 2024 when participants complete their individual digital stories, which will be published on partner websites and social media.

Written by Lee Lester