Students to tell ‘Other Stories’ in Narrative 4 exchange in Limerick

Jess Casey


Jess Casey

Students will travel to Limerick this week to take part in the ‘Telling the Other Story’ workshop, hosted by Dr Ruth Gilligan and Narrative 4

Students will travel to Limerick this week to take part in the ‘Telling the Other Story’ workshop, hosted by Dr Ruth Gilligan and Narrative 4

PUPILS from Birmingham will this week travel to Limerick to work with students on discovering how retelling each other’s stories can increase understanding between communities.

Pupils from three diverse Birmingham schools, Earls High School, Joseph Chamberlain College and Holyhead School, will work with Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh students on a three-day ‘Telling the Other Story Without Borders’ project. 

The students will be accompanied by Dr Ruth Gilligan, a bestselling novelist and University of Birmingham academic, who organised the event with global not-for-profit Narrative 4, which is based in Limerick and New York. 

“We live in a time where understanding and empathy are more important than ever, especially amongst young people,” Dr Gilligan said. 

“Amidst all the talk of Brexit and the Border, there’s a real question mark over how England and Ireland actually understand each other today.” 

During their time in Limerick, pupils will work with renowned British and Irish authors, visit museums and hone their creative writing skills. 

The key activity of the three-day workshop will focus on a ‘story exchange’ where pupils will share personal stories from one another’s lives with a partner. 

Students will then have to ‘step into someone else’s shoes’ by telling these stories back to the group in the first person. 

The ‘story exchange’ model was developed by Narrative 4, and is used as a way to bring together young people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

“Narrative 4 and I have organised this project to provide a vibrant, safe and creative environment where telling each other’s stories will hopefully provide the foundations for better understanding, build relationships and change attitudes towards people from ‘other’ cultures, not to mention improved writing skills,” Dr Gilligan said. 

English and History teacher at the Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh Paula O’Sullivan said: “Narrative 4 empowers my students to engage and understand real people, while feeling listened to and understood themselves.”

“Building empathy is instrumental in the development of our young people, they are the leaders, teachers, doctors and legislators of tomorrow.” 

A free event is also set to take place at the Belltable this Saturday November 17 at 8pm. ‘Telling the Other Story’: Narratives without Borders will focus on stepping into the shoes of the ‘other.’ Joining Dr Gilligan will be Donal Ryan, David Savill and Paula McGrath, and musician Kathleen Turner. Tickets reserved at the Box Office.