I am curious and amazed,

by swinging myself upon a waterfall, without fear,

looking at a dolphin on a hill.

This image and all images we used in the workshop are part of TheAlbero project Story Lab

This is my poem of resonance from the collective story told by 23 pupils, me, and their teacher.

From the collective story, the poems of resonance, and the final sharing, I see two words emerging: Courage and Listening.

The courage of the girl and the boy, protagonists of the story, to launch themselves into the waterfall and in the deep sea; the courage of the protagonists to stay with each other even when one of them seems like a crazy guy to the other; the courage to go on exploring passing from a landscape/world to another; the courage to say “yes” and healing the fin of a dolphin. This “yes” was the only word of one of the pupils as his contribution to the story and this little powerful word gave a direction to the end of the story. How do we direct our narrating story and our personal and social story with a yes or with a no?

The courage of the teenagers to launch themselves in a collective story. Many of them said about the challenges of the activity: to tell together, to continue the story told by somebody else, depending on the others choices in the story, to improvise, connect to the other’s imagination, match words and images, overcome the fear of not doing the “right thing”, opening up.

The pupils caught exactly – even if not explicitly – the deeper dimension of co-creating stories as a practice of listening. When we tell a story where everybody adds a little piece, there is an ongoing negotiation among different perspectives and imaginaries. And this requires a series of soft skills related to conflict transformation literacy: attentive listening, the capacity of mediation, accepting what it was said, capacity to creatively integrating what the others told and what I am going to tell, capacity to stay into the unknown, taking the agency to creatively transform.

I am very grateful to connect again with teenagers through my work. And now, maybe, with much more awareness of what I can offer and of how I can be.

My challenge was working online and above all working on a platform that does not allow to see everybody either to see the participants meanwhile presenting and screen sharing. And however, we had a meaningful experience. I am aware that, indeed, the intention and the quality of the “presence” (that required more energy online in my experience) is shaping our model of conversation and the way we are together. 

In our co-initiating, we recall our body, our senses. Despite the limit of time and a big number of pupils, we shared and savored our names, at the same time, letting them be present in the ether.

It is so powerful the intelligence of the heart. It is so touching the combination of depth, fragility, and strength. It is so delicate the threshold between me and each one of them and so heartwarming the connection after. It is so fulfilling the opening up that comes from a radical welcoming of whatever is emerging.

Ilaria Olimpico

*The workshop was “Stories that reconnect with teenagers” delivered online