Shouting it out loud!

As featured in our latest newsletter, Tricia Jenkins (InsightShare Senior Associate, Portugal) attended two international conferences to present and screen InsightShare projects that she has been delivering over the last year. Now, with feet firmly back home, she shares some reflections.

I’ve had the privilege (and delight) to work on some major projects with InsightShare over the past couple of years. Often, we are so busy preparing for and delivering projects that we don’t find enough time to tell enough people about the impact of what we – and our amazing partners and project participants – have accomplished. As a long-standing committee member of the regular international digital storytelling conference (DST2023), and a former committee member of the International Visual Methods Conference (IVMC), I felt it was a great opportunity for us to shout out loud about how we are using narrative-based, visual, participatory methods in such a variety of settings and for such a range of purposes. The themes of each conference – Transition and Story Work for a Just Future were also so appropriate for framing our work, focusing on the importance and power of people speaking for themselves to effect positive change. It was also such a joy to be in person for the first time since before the pandemic, meeting old friends, colleagues and partners and getting to know so many new inspiring people at both events.

The IVMC 2023 ”Transition: Preparing for the Next Generation” took place between May 29 – 31 at La Sapienza University in Rome, bringing together academics, activists, researchers and campaigners to share their work in which they use ‘visual methods’ for teaching and learning, research and community engagement. This was the 8th IVMC conference, which happens every two years. The next one, in 2025 will be held in Istanbul.

On Tuesday May 30th: In the thread ‘Equitable Future’, I presented ‘Participatory Video, Digital Storytelling, Voice and the Meaningful Engagement of older people’, using our participatory video (PV) project with the WHO UN Decade of Healthy Ageing as a case study. The toolkit we produced to promote the method has also recently been published by WHO and can be downloaded for free here.

On the same evening, our Living Cultures Fellowship project was one of just two PV projects at a special screening at the newly refurbished independent cinema, La Scene (you can find it on Facebook – the website is under construction). I gave a very short introduction to the Fellowship, then screened a film comprising clips sent to me by our Fellows and examples of the work that they had done during their online training that I led between 2022-2023 – as much as possible enabling the Fellows and mentors to present their work and how they want to use PV for themselves. The video, Owning Our Narratives is on our YouTube channel.

On Wednesday May 31st, I presented a paper entitled: Participatory Video and Most Significant Change (PVMSC) – Participant-led storytelling in evaluation. I focused on the endline evaluation of Opportunity International’s Mainstreaming Financial Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities in Uganda programme, in which we trained local staff and community enablers in the PVMSC method and supported them in three locations to create stories of change with each community. The compilation video: “Let us have self-confidence!” was screened to accompany a slideshow documenting the process.

On June 16th, I took off for Washington DC to go to the  11th International Digital Storytelling Conference “Radical Listening: Story Work for a Just Future which took place in Washington DC between June 20 and June 23, hosted by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Montgomery College, the Smithsonian Institution and, on the fourth day, online hosted by StoryCenter.

Across the three days, I presented our work with refugees in Uganda in October 2023 through the Opportunity International RISE project. I focussed on the importance of the Story Circle, as this is a key element of digital storytelling practice. I showed the compilation video with inspiring stories told by the participants themselves. I also showcased the WHO project again through a Pecha Kucha presentation.

Photo: First day of work with refugees in Uganda.


Perhaps the highlight of this conference for me was to live stream in from Kenya a panel of our Living Cultures Fellows and mentors who ran and chaired their own session with me acting as technical support rather than introducing or chairing. Despite concerns about connectivity and time difference, the session was very well received since our team in Kenya had rehearsed and timed their contributions perfectly! They spoke about both PV and digital storytelling, as one of our mentors, Scola Kukutia, was also trained by me through DRIVE, a DigiTales (my digital storytelling company) project in 2021 (you can find the co-authored toolkit from this project here). They talked about the importance of PV for amplifying women’s voices, cultural preservation and human rights. Scola spoke of her use of the story circle technique as key to her project on FGM in rural Kenya. And they concluded with a call to action. Perhaps this was the nearest we could come to a decolonised approach in a conference context!

It was inspiring to be part of these two major international conferences, which both focused on what is so central to our work: change (transition), listening and stories for change (radical listening for a just future). It is also good to find the space to reflect on the work, to think about its impact on people, and to confirm to oneself – this is why I do this.

To wrap up our efforts in June, our Director of Programmes, Soledad Muniz, presented the WHO project and its key findings at the DSA2023 Conference on June 28. The presentation was really well received, and it was exciting to see other panellists interested in continuing the conversation about experiences in decolonial research and practice. Last but not least, Soledad co-authored a blog in Bond UK with Sally Vicaria, Director of International Programmes of Opportunity International (OI), which tells the journey of a long-term partnership to embed PV MSC into OI’s Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) processes. 

We shared far and wide our work on radical listening, transition and the importance of storytelling this summer. We certainly did Shout it out loud!

About the author 

Dr Tricia Jenkins, Senior Associate (Portugal), InsightShare

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