The MO-TRAYL project aims to understand young people’s views about their mobility and how they experience living and coming from two or more countries. As part of the youth-centric methods we use in the project, we brought together 11 young research participants from the three European case study countries for a 2-day creative writing workshop called ‘Finding Your Voice’. It took place at the Hotel Management School Maastricht from 28 June to 1 July 2019. Under the guidance of Franka Andoh, a Ghanaian author, and the MO-TRAYL researchers, participants were invited to experiment with a variety of creative methods to tell their own stories, ranging from creative writing exercises to interviews and podcasts (audio stories).
The (audio) stories and interviews that emerged from this workshop will be published in a book as well as on this website.
Franka Andoh kicks off the creative writing workshop by explaining the importance of finding your voice and telling your own truth. Participants were invited to explore their connections to Ghana through short creative writing exercises as well as more intensive writing periods that together formed the building blocks of their stories.
Participants are working on their stories that gave glimpses into their lives in Ghana and in their current country of residence, about what home means to them, the powerful connections to family and the excitement of trips to Ghana, and many other things.
Short energizers between writing exercises help to find new inspiration. The energizer here is called ‘This is who I am…’ in which participants revealed a little about themselves by presenting their own “signature move” to the group: what is a gesture or movement that says something about who I am.
After the ‘Performing with Voice’ workshop, participants got together in groups of three to practice reading their stories out loud and receive feedback and coaching on how to effectively use their voice to convey emotion and emphasize the most important parts of their stories.
“A good story is a good story no matter who wrote it (Anne McCaffrey)” and “Write down what should not be forgotten (Isabel Allende)”: these were the quotes on the official MO-TRAYL youth workshop t-shirts that served as reminders and inspiration throughout the workshop.
After lunch, we went out for a “walk and talk” session in the park behind the hotel. Walking and talking is a great way to find inspiration in nature, connect to someone and get the creative thoughts flowing. Participants were invited to find things together in nature that (metaphorically) related to the themes they had written or thought about during the workshop and share it with their partner(s).
Participants received training in how to conduct interviews and listened to a few examples of good interviews. Interviewing is a useful skill for the future and practicing this gave participants the chance to step into the MO-TRAYL researchers’ shoes to see what it means to be the interviewer rather than the interviewee.
After the interview workshop, participants spread out to find a quiet place and interviewed each other about the experiences they had during the workshop and with the writing process. Questions included “What did you like most about this project?”, “How did you come about your story?”, and “Can you tell me about the impact this workshop had on you?”
Shared meals on the beautiful terrace of the hotel gave the opportunity to relax, connect over a variety of things, share experiences throughout the day, or play games such as “two truths, one lie”. In this game, everyone reveals three things about oneself and the rest of the group has to guess which one is the lie – a great icebreaker and conversation starter.