Post by HLTD50 student Lily

Image from HLTD50 Digital Storytelling Workshop, March 2018. Click to view gallery.

Storytelling is a method for us all to share our stories and experiences. It’s a way for anyone to share their experience of illness and health and their experience of life. Expressing your experience as a digital story allows your story to extend far as the reach of digitalization which has no limits, although the audience and even the storyteller might.

Having the opportunity to take part in a digital storytelling workshop hosted by ​Project Re*Vision is an experience like no other. I had the opportunity to share my digital story, I had the opportunity to simultaneously create art while also spreading a message about access to healthcare in Toronto. The staff at Re-Vision who worked with us, guided us and supported us, which is essential for storytelling. The guidance and support is helpful for using the video software, but it was most impactful during the conversations we had. All of the staff members were so open to everyone’s ideas and they most importantly ​validated and acknowledged everyone’s story. A lack of validation and acknowledgement can be a limit to the storyteller as it can prevent them from further telling their story and it perpetuates a lack of understanding of a person’s ideas and pain.

Throughout the entire experience of the workshop, what I found to be the biggest takeaway was how everyone was so deeply connected. It was a very touching experience to witness everyone working so hard on their stories for two days and to witness the end results. Whether my fellow students chose to share their stories or not, the fact that everyone created a story demonstrates the dedication and willingness to voice their story. The process of doing each step of creating a digital story from choosing your story, to writing a script, to making a voiceover, to adding videos and pictures; it is all a therapeutic process.

What is interesting is that the method of staring at your story on the laptop screen is both daunting and relieving at the same time. It is daunting because you are reliving an experience and are trying to convey the story in a way where people will understand your viewpoint. It is relieving because for some it is a way to let go of negative experiences but it is also relieving because you have created your very own story. It is your own because you are the one who had the concept and ideas and were able to convey your message. No matter how you frame your story, the concept, the words, the images, it will have the ability to connect with people.

That, to me, is the greatest realization from the workshop and the entire experience. No matter what digital story was being shown, there was something that resonated with me in every story. I may not have experienced the story being shown but the basic emotions being displayed I have felt and I could therefore feel and empathize with the storyteller. Feelings and emotions of sadness, fear, anger, confusion are all feelings and emotions that everyone can feel and that everyone has felt. I found it to be such a humanizing experience to know that everyone experiences pain, grief and happiness the same way I do. It seems like a simple concept but in the moment of having such intense feeling and being overcome with certain emotions you feel like you are the sole bearer of those emotions. What is meaningful is to see that everyone experiences the same emotions.

I am grateful for not only the opportunity to create a digital story but to also witness other people’s stories. The vulnerability that everyone showcased beautifully demonstrates how connected we all are. Despite the fact that we may not know everyone in the class well and for that matter would not open up about our lives the way that we did, there was an element of connectedness that ran through the entire workshop. There was something about being in a space surrounded by supportive colleagues that created a safe and open atmosphere. It was a space where everyone was receptive to stories being shared and where everyone validated each other’s stories. As future healthcare workers I believe this empathy that we all share and have witnessed is important to the future of healthcare. From our own experiences and expressing our stories to watching the vulnerability of others sharing their story proves that sharing stories itself is a form of therapy and provides insight to others. This is important in the healthcare field because it shows the complexity of people’s stories, their experiences, their emotions and how we as humans all feel the same things. Our health and our emotions are not two separate entities but rather intertwined and shared, it is what makes us human.