From Voice to a Narrative: Discovering the Educational Opportunities of Digital Storytelling

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Anna Vainer is an educational consultant, group facilitator and the Director of the Haifa Hillel. Anna was born in Kiev, Ukraine and has lived in Israel since the age of 11. Her early experience on an Israel advocacy mission turned into a fifteen year career in informal Jewish education. Anna has led international programs, trained and learned from others in Israel, the FSU and North America. Anna completed army service in Israel as a lieutenant with honors and went on to hold positions at the Oranim College of Education and Jewish Agency for IsraeI. She spent three years in New York as the Israeli emissary building Jewish community and developing innovative programs for FSU émigrés. Upon return to Israel, she co-founded the consulting firm “Katra” with Alexandra Belinski. Anna holds an MBA in Non-profit Management, a B.A. in Human Services and Political Science and a kid in each arm.

The ritual of sharing insights about life can be immensely valuable both to those who speak and those who bear witness. It is through my own experience in group facilitation and Jewish experiential learning that I have come to the conclusion that what people connect to the most are personal stories. This is what I respond to the most, and it took me a while to understand that it is a professional practice worth exploring.

I was interested in storytelling for professional development, as a reflective practice, as a pedagogical strategy, a vehicle for education, community mobilization, and advocacy. There was an additional side to it, though: I was consciously looking for an innovative “edge,” something that can be facilitated in a non-traditional way.

I used a part of my ROI Micro Grant to take an online webinar which was put together by the Center for Digital Storytelling. It consisted of seven separate learning sessions with people from across the world who wanted to learn how to tell their stories so they could be of service to someone else, a cause or perhaps a close person.

So in a way, my grant allowed me to go learn/digital/professional. I found the Digital Storytelling Webinar to be incredibly helpful in meeting all of my goals, as an educator and as an individual. The webinar helped me map my own story, to reflect on ways to use it as a tool with other groups and to outline the entire framework of the genre. It provided a strong combination of teaching me a new educational tool and a participatory technology to go with it.

I completed the training, inspired by the amount of ideas and applications of this "narrative technology" to get different Jewish voices to tell and share their own stories with others. I also look forward to continuing my self-education in this field. I am grateful for the opportunity that became available to me through this Micro Grant and I strongly recommend it to other ROIers.