What is a Story?
Jun 2015 28

Everyone has an important story to share. In a modern world, many people think the only stories that matter are the ones we see on TV in the movies. But our lives and the meaning we make of them should be shared for our own sake, and for others. We believe that the experiences of immigrants are a key part of this nation’s bigger story. After all, we are a “nation of immigrants.” 

Your stories are especially important to lift up today, because of the pervasive hostility towards immigrants. It is our hope that the stories told in this class will be shared with the wider public to share your challenges, hopes, dreams, and journeys. By telling your stories with the help of technology, you will touch your viewers’ hearts and remind us that despite our diverse backgrounds, we are all human.


A Digital Story is a short, first-person video-narrative created by combining recorded voice, still and moving images, and music or other sounds.

A Digital Storyteller is anyone who has a desire to document life experience, ideas, or feelings through the use of story and digital media.


A Story

A story can be as short as explaining why you bought your first car or house, or as long as War and Peace. Your own desires in life, the kinds of struggles you have faced, and most importantly, the number and depth of realizations you have taken from your experience all shape your natural abilities as an effective storyteller. Translating those realisations into stories is mainly about time. You need time to put the raw material before you, time to learn procedures and approaches for crafting the story, and time to listen to the feedback and improve upon your effort.

When we hear stories, we listen for answers that we can relate to our own lives. All stories can really be boiled down to one of two types:

1) “A stranger came to town…”
2) “We went on a vacation.”


In other words, change came to you or you went towards change.

Finding and clarifying the insight and emotions of the story can be the most challenging and rewarding part of the storytelling process.


  • What was the moment when things changed?
  • Were you aware of it at the time?
  • If not, what was the moment you became aware that things had changed?


Audiences like to hear about change because they’re looking for answers about change in their own lives.

Kinds of Stories

There are all kinds of stories in our lives that we can develop into multimedia pieces. In our class, we will be examining our stories through a lens of immigration, but that could be reflected in any of the below examples.

The Story About Someone Important

Character Stories:


How we love, are inspired by, want to recognise, and find meaning in our relationships are all aspects of our lives that are deeply important to us.

Memorial Stories:


Honouring and remembering people who have passed is an essential part of the grieving.

The Story About an Event in My Life

Adventure Stories: 


One of the reasons we travel is to break away from the normalcy of our lives and create new vivid memories. All of us who travel know that the experience is usually an invitation to challenge ourselves, to change our perspective about our lives, and to reassess meaning.

Accomplishment Stories:


Accomplishment stories are about achieving a goal, like graduating from school, landing a major contract, or being on the winning team in a sporting event.

The Story About a Place in My Life:

You may have a story about your current home, an ancestral home, a town, a park, a mountain or forest you love, a restaurant, store, or gathering place. Your insights into place give us insight about your sense of values and connection to community.

The Story About What I Do:

For many people with professional careers, a life story is shaped by their job. A good story often comes from looking at the familiar in a new way and with a new meaning. The details of the tasks, the culture of the characters that inhabit our workplace, or our spiritual or philosophical relationship to our work or vocation can lead us into many stories.

Other Personal Stories:

Recovery Stories, Love Stories, Discovery Stories


Content ref:  Center for Digital Storytelling.
Excerpt from my 'AFSC- new Immigrant and refugee storytelling'
lecture delivered in July 2015.
DST produced for University of Maryland. 
Reproduction without permission allowed.
Link back & a tweet appreciated!

 You can make a story just like the one above by attending 
my workshop next week Sunday, January 24th from 10AM to 1PM.
‘Life of I – a transformative digital storytelling workshop’ 

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 3.23.38 am

Click here to register for the digital storytelling workshop

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