Guidelines for seven classroom workshops

I. Introduction
To prepare for discussions in each of seven Stories Exchange Project classroom workshops, all of you should read the six parts of “Use these stories to change the world!” here in Methods and answer the questions asked there, summarized in “Ask yourself…” also in Methods.
As soon as possible and at least before the beginning of the workshop in which you will discuss the questions raised in each part of “Use these stories to change the world!”
 — you should enter your responses in the spaces provided at the end of any of the stories in Stories and Responses here at this Web-site
 — you should write all your responses in a journal and give it to the leader of your classroom workshop so that he or she can distribute them to everyone else.
II. Discussing Web-page stories and responses
In preparation for each classroom workshop, all of you should read everyone’s responses and vote for three stories and responses at this Web-site which you would like to discuss.
III. Getting your own new stories
Before the third workshop, all of you should write stories about your own experiences with members of other ethnic groups.
And you should type these in as new stories in one of the seven menus of Stories and Responses here.
Then vote for three new stories that you would like to discuss in the third and fourth workshops.
IV. Gathering and discussing new stories
After the second workshop, you should visit classmates, friends, family and neighbors and at least two members of other ethnic groups. And you should record their stories about experiences they have had in communicating with people of different ethnic backgrounds.
Before the third workshop you should transcribe at least two of the stories which you have recorded, each told by a member of a different ethnic group.
Then you should enter these in windows provided for new stories after each story in Stories and Responses.
Before the fourth, fifth, and sixth workshops you should vote for three new stories which you think should be discussed.
V. Preparing, reporting, and discussing practical projects
By the end of the third workshop you should form three-member teams and prepare practical projects to discuss with your workshop leader at the end of the fourth workshop.
As a team-member, you should:
 — choose an issue which you have discovered in reading and responding to stories at this Web-site and in answering questions raised in “Use these stories to change the world!” and summarized in “Ask yourself…” in Methods.
 — interview other students, teachers, school personnel, and members of their communities to determine one way in which this issue is manifested in your school or community;
 — plan a project that can begin to make a practical response to this local manifestation of the issue.
For the fifth, sixth and seventh workshops you should choose a representative of your three-member project team who will review the progress of your project, report on further strategies that you are developing to respond to problems encountered so far, and ask for other participants’ suggestions.
VI. Summarizing workshop discussions here at
After each of the seven workshops, discussion leaders should summarize and enter as responses to stories at this Web-site:
 — discussions of stories and responses to stories and other texts previously posted here, and answers to questions in “Use these stories to change the world!”
 — discussions of your own stories and the stories you have gathered from others;
 — discussions of practical projects responding to problems defined by the stories.
The representatives of your three-member teams should also summarize their presentations of practical projects here at
VII. Preparing to gather, present and discuss new stories
Remember, please, that in the Stories Exchange Project we are not interested in general cases. We are interested in particular people in particular circumstances.
It is very important to be there: this whole project is about being there.
1. You take responsibility, they take responsibility.
You have to agree with each teller that his or her story can be presented and talked about.
If they do not want their story to appear at with their name on it, you will have to go to someone else for a story.
You take responsibility, and the teller takes responsibility.
2. What do they look like? How do they speak?
Tell us about the people who tell you stories.
Are they tall or short, thin or fat?
Do they speak slowly and loud, fast, quietly?
About how old are they?
How do they walk, sit, talk?
3. Tell us where you are
Describe the space in which you meet the person.
When you go into someone’s living room or kitchen or garden or wherever you are, find some concrete detail that is unusual.
4. How do you feel…
… before you go to get a story from someone – and while you’re there, and after you leave?
Are you nervous before you go? Is this a person whom you know but have never talked with about what you’re prepared to talk about?
Or have you not met this person, and are feeling nervous or uncertain? Or are you feeling happy because you know the person and you have talked before about the things you are going to talk about? 5. What happens between you and the person telling the story?
Perhaps he or she resisted telling the story, and you had to persuade him or her to talk about whatever it was?
6. The story has a life of its own. It is born, it lives and grows – and then it stops.
A story occurs in separate moments: it is not just all one time. It goes from this point to that; it has a beginning, a middle and an end.
A story focuses on change. Something happens in it: something is different at the end than it was at the beginning.
And the meaning of a story comes from what happens. It is a changing vision.
One way of conveying that is through details of experience, a sound, something seen, something heard, some sense experience. Something that comes through your body.
When you are getting a story from a person, you have to get this information. You cannot invent it. You have to get them to tell the story in a way that conveys their experience, and your job is to carry that experience on to the rest of us in the Stories Exchange Project – and to many other people all around the world.
7. You GIVE the IMAGES to people. A story is alive only if it goes between people. So tell the story again before you write it down. Tell it to a friend, or tell it to one of the other members of your group or to your family: pass it on – and listen to it.
Because when you tell someone else a story it has to be good. You don’t want to have somebody say “Why are you taking my time with that? What’s it about?” So telling it over and over is a way of helping the story live.
This is theater, really: telling a story is a little performance.
And whether we are telling our own story or somebody else’s, it is about communicating the feeling and not letting anyone just sit there and play the distant, uninvolved spectator.We are trying to bring the people listening as close to the story as we can. That is our job. So we have to work on that: to bring out what is at the heart – the feeling center – of the story. It takes work, cutting away to what is essential, getting to the heart of it.
Robbie McCauley, the African-American playwright and performance artist who worked with us on the first run of the Stories Exchange Project in the Czech Republic, in 1994 and 1995 says something interesting in the video documentary on that part of the project [you can see excerpts from that under “Videos” here].
She is talking about what Ondrej Gina, the Director of the Romani National Congress in the Czech Republic and a leading participant in the Stories Exchange Project, said to her – and about how he said it:
“He said you go down – and he made a gesture as if he were going down inside himself – , and you bring up IMAGES and you GIVE them to people.”
So you do three things.
You go down inside yourself.
You bring up images.
And you give them to people.
It is as simple as that – and as difficult.
So much of our training is against us. So much of what we are taught says: “Don’t go inside; look outside, get your rules from someone else, from somewhere else.”
And IMAGES, not ideas.
We are trained to talk about ideas. “I think that…” We don’t begin many sentences, “I feel…” An image is something you see or you touch or you taste: something you experience.
So that is our second rule, which goes against most of the rules we are taught in school. Most schools try to teach you not to go inside but outside to a rule book of one kind or another and get your answers there.
And then the third thing is that you GIVE your images to people. You give whatever you find in there, these images, this experience. You GIVE that, you don’t keep it inside, you find out what it is and you give it to somebody else – as if you were giving them a piece of bread. Something for them to eat.
Telling a story is like giving a gift. Or like a mother giving a child something to eat.
And as for discussing stories, please note what we say in “Use these stories to change the world!”
A discussion creates a space in which you can
 — express your own thoughts;
 – get new and different ideas from your classmates;
 — make compromises.
And remember what is said in “People condemn what they know nothing about” in Interviews here by Irena Martinkova, the teacher at the Jan Patocka Grammar School in Prague who has led discussions of stories gathered by the Stories Exchange Project:
“My task is not to make conclusions but to learn to share ideas.
So we sit in a circle and I ask only one question which everybody has to answer.
And I try to make them listen to each other’s answers.”