Have you seen the storytelling tree in the Urban Forest?
It’s covered in leaves created by groups of Loughborough residents and students from the university to represent stories they shared with each other during storytelling workshops recently held there.
The sessions were a joint activity between Charnwood Arts and Loughborough University. Students from the Storytelling Academy led the event on behalf of the E-SHAHRAZAD project, an Erasmus-plus funded initiative to encourage inter-generational learning activities in community settings across Europe.
The theme of the workshops was ‘Our Loughborough’, with people asked to tell each other stories of how they came to be in Loughborough, share their experiences of living here and name their favourite places in it.
By doing this, it was hoped each would learn something about their story-partner, find common experiences and shared interests, and come to a better understanding of what ‘real’ people are like rather than the stereotypical view of residents and students, town and gown.
‘I was quite anxious because it was my first time doing an activity with the local community, especially the elderly,’ said one student. ‘But I feel more confident now, and as an international student, felt I was accepted by sharing my stories.’
One Loughborough resident echoed that feeling. ‘I wasn’t sure what to expect and whether young people would be interested in what I had to say.’ They were surprised to find it ‘an enjoyable morning’ and ‘refreshing to speak to young people.’
‘We swapped stories of our backgrounds and we’d realise we had similar or parallel childhood experiences, experiences in a similar professional field and so on. ’Regardless of nationality, location or ages, we are the same as a human being, having stuff to manage, caring for what we love.’
At the end of each workshop, everyone heard everyone else’s stories, with each pair of storytellers sharing their partner’s story with the group before hanging their leaf on the tree.
Alison Mott, Charnwood Arts Project Coordinator
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