In the IntegrArt-project the L’officina della memoria the following activities:
1. Take part to train the trainers workshop in Hungary – three days workshop on digital storytelling and partner meeting on the national workshops and local exhibition.
As Italian partner we produced five digital stories.
2. Implementations of national workshops with migrant and refugees in the partner countries. As Italian partner we produced four qualitative interviews on the biography of asylum seekers and refugees and we organized a workshop on digital storytelling with the collaboration of the Centre of Immigration belonging to Municipality of Perugia.
3. Study tour in the UK: meeting and workshop with refugees and representatives of NGOs working in the field; methodology exchange (partners from the UK and Italy shared their methods with the other three partners); meeting with the deputy-mayor of Blackburn. As Italian partner we run a workshop on video-interview methodology.
Digital storytelling workshop: from oral tale to touching narrative
The digital storytelling workshop took place once a week, over the period of one month, as part of the Italian language course for foreign students. The goal was to use the digital storytelling method to encourage participants to practice Italian language through writing their own story, telling it, and listening to the stories of others. From a group of fifteen people being present at the first introductory meeting nine stories of migrants from Afghanistan, Mali, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey and Somalia were produced.
As participants had difficulties with Italian language, we decided to spend more time on story circle, writing activity and voice recording. Repeating the stories, shared within the group, has created a supportive environment, where all spoken words had relevance. Linguistic and discoursive tools slowly turned the more or less confused memory and imagination to be an object exsisting outside the subject in a space shared with others (Jedlowsky 2009).
The story has produced a certain distance and it let all participants overcome the sea barrier from which they were taken and to perceive themselves not inside an eternal present, without home, without horizon, but to objectify to themselves the horizon of their future expectations.
Kia: My greatest love is music. My name is Kia, I’m twenty. I’m Afghani. I’ve lived in Italy for six months. When I was seventeen, my passion for rap started, and still today it’s my favorite genre. The first time I sang in front of an audience was in Iran three years ago. As soon as I took the stage, I felt very excited, and I felt very happy. Now I listen to a lot of Italian rap. I find it very useful to learn the language, too. I love foreigner rap, too. I hope my passion will last in the future. I’d like to settle in Italy, to find a job, to go on with the gym, to find rap events where to sing.
Mohamed: My name is Mohamed. I’m from Somalia. I’m twenty-three. I arrived to Italy two years ago. I obtain my documents: the residence permit, the travel document, the fiscal code and the health insurance card. Now I live in Perugia, in 24/L Favarone Street by the Migrant Centre. I study Italian language. I met many good people in Italy. I’m looking for job, but it is difficult to find one. The first city I saw was Catania, then Palermo, Trapani, Naples, Rome, Florence, Bologna, Milan, Arezzo, Terni and Perugia. The most beautiful cities for me are Milan and Naples. I liked the big buildings in Milan and the organization in the streets. In Naples I was touched by the people’s generosity: everybody was happy and kind to me. I’d like to live in a beautiful city like Naples and with the same public facilities of Milan.
Ahmed: I come from Afghanistan. I’ve lived in Italy for two years. Before living in Perugia, I stayed in Rome, where I worked as a tradesman at the stadium. The most beautiful match I saw at the stadium of Rome was Lazio-Roma, ended 2-1. It was a beautiful match, but I was sorry because my favourite team is Rome. Italians love football very much, and since when I’ve been here it became my favourite sport, too. I also love cricket, but I love playing it, not watching it. I started working now, so I have little time for sport. I hope I soon will have the occasion to watch a nice football match again.
Rashid: My name is Rashid. I was born in Somalia. I lived in my country for thirty years. I left for Italy one year ago. I arrived to Sicily. The first people I met were policemen. I stayed in Sicily for nine months, then I moved to Perugia. I started studying. On my documents it’s written “student”. Now I live at the Immigration Centre. I like very much to be here. I have many friends. I wake up at half past eight every morning and I go to Miss Floriana’s lesson. Lessons are sometimes very easy, sometimes difficult. I like studying very much. I hope I will learn Italian well, because the language is very important for the work. I’d like very much to meet my wife who lives in Somalia. We got married three years ago. I imagine my life in Italy. I hope I’ll have babies.
We passed from telling the stories to the phase of writing, the voice recording and the selection of images that made up the narrative fabric of the story. At this stage, an Apple iPad tablet was used as an intermediate technology to set up between the facilitator and the learner. The instrument without keyboard, has allowed learners to break down the language barrier and make editing easier. Most of the images used in the stories were taken from the Facebook profiles of participants, some of them were taken from the Creative Commons section of Flickr. The time of selection and displaying the photographs attracted other people form the Centre, and it turned out to be an opportunity to show others some images of their country of origin.
The use of a lightweight and immediate tool such as the iPad has facilitated relationship between the migrants, but it was not successful for all of them. Some of the storytellers did not show interest in taking part in the editing process, for them telling the story completed its usefulness. Like Ali, who was really interested, left the Centre as soon as he finished telling his story.
In this case, the media is used not to return home, but to create a moveable home, the narrative is a light dwelling, mobile, like a tent that you put up when bad weather looms or you take a break; comes alive when it is animated by some guests. Travel with us and among us. (Jedlowsky 2009).
Ali: I arrived to Italy on 15th March 2011. I travelled to Cortona by train, then by bus. I arrive to the hotel at 11:00 o’clock. At the station of Cortona I met some people. Two boys from Eritrea and another girl and a boy… 5 people were at the station. We started talking. They asked me “Where are you from?” I told them “I’m Pakistani”. Another one said “Eritrea” and two others I don’t know. I told them “Do you want to eat?” and they said “Yes”, so I gave them something to eat. We ate together. We stayed at the station for a while, then they told me “Do you want to stay here or to go downstairs?”. I asked “Where downstairs?”. They said “There are other people downstairs”. We went downstairs and I saw there were 14 people more sleeping on the floor on the pasteboard. I sat on the stairs and slowly the morning came, so we went to the police station in Cortona. There were a lot of people there. Some of them were asking for a permit renewal, some were new. I was new, too. We waited until five p.m., then went to the Reception Centre St. Ann. They asked me “Do you have any friends here?” I said “No, I haven’t. I’m alone, I don’t have any friends”. There were many people in the Reception Centre. I stayed in a container for two or three days and three days later I got out and went to school to learn Italian language. I sat in the class I drew a flower, and the teacher saw it and asked me “Can you draw?” I said “Yes, a little”. Then the teacher spoke with the Art teacher and four days later I attended the Art class. The teacher gave me a sheet and told me “Try”. I drew a flower by pastels. The teacher told me “Quit those pencils!” and brought me some paints and a brush. Three or four days later I finished my first painting. The teacher looked at it, and other people did, then he came to the class and said “Ali painted a beautiful painting”. I was very happy because I liked this work very much. Then the teacher gave me other canvases. Every morning I go to the class at eight o’clock. I stopped the language classes because I always paint. I work until one p.m., then I pray, ‘cause I’m muslim, I have to pray. Then I have lunch and rest a little bit. Then I start working again until six o’clock. I had an exhibition on the 18th December and many people came. Also the head of the police came, and gave me a paper where she wrote “Ali, you’re a great artist”. Then the time came I received my residence permit for one year, and then my passport. I left the Centre in January.
The ability to gain experience is put into play in the communication process. We have seen how the problem of atrophy corresponds in large part to the absence of adequate community narratives.
The community narrative does not coincide with existing communities: it is the space that is created when the story is a gift, which is given and taken.The feeling of having a Heimat can derive more from the ability to tell stories, than from dwelling permanently in a place. (Jedowlosky 2009)
The stories produced in the workshop are accessible via the project website IntegArt, they are back again in the vast sea of the Internet.
Have these stories completed their usefulness or is it possible to imagine a new beginning?
The new beginning of these stories start with an exhibition called “Migranti per forza”.