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South Asian Youth Festival 2020: Digital Storytelling Workshop

Introduction of SAYF 2020

South Asian Youth Festival 2020 is organized to gather youths from South Asian Countries, connect with them, share and learn their perspective, and develop a strong bond. The 3- weeks-long program is organized on the occasion of International Youth Day 2020 to celebrate youth power, energy, creativity, success, and capabilities. This festival which is being organized virtually will continue till the 3rd of September. The festival is organized in collaboration with various South Asian organizations like UNICEF- ROSA; UNESCO; A2I, Cabinet Division, Bangladesh, UNDP; National Youth Council Nepal; CYDA, India; CYN, Sri Lanka; Pinnacle Consultancy Pvt. Ltd, Maldives; Dynamic Youth Afghanistan; Maldives National Youth Council; Coca-Cola; Turkish Airlines & South-South Network.

The Digital Storytelling workshop was facilitated by Mr. Benislos Thushan, Founder & Chief Instructor, Digital Storytelling, Sri Lanka on Monday, 17th of August 2020 at the South Asian Youth Festival. The skillful workshop helped the participants to understand the concept of storytelling, narratives, about the storyteller and audience, tools for storytelling, and tips to make the story attractive and informative. Mr. Thushan warmed up the workshop session by highlighting the fundamental motive to empower young people with the skill of storytelling and also digital literacy. He started the session by showing the slide presentation and urged participants to share their opinion on the chat-box section.

Digital Storytelling: Understanding the process of storytelling

Digital Storytelling is a buzzword in today’s digital era. If you look at the company, brands, or educational institutions, different other platforms, everyone is interested in storytelling and everyone wants to have a piece of the pie. Mr. Thushan explained, storytelling as the process of communicating ideas to the audience through storytellers. It is the process of understanding storytelling. He gave an example of a beautiful quotation from Robert McKee, “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put the ideas into the world today”. He further explained storytelling by an example of life. Our relationship with storytelling starts from the age we are infants as we are exposed to many stories by our parents and by the surrounding around us. He shared the surprising thing i.e. since we are born, we have been used to hear stories; we grow up listening to stories, we grow up by telling stories. Thus, the definition of storytelling became one of the powerful tools.

Furthermore, he added- “The purpose of this workshop is to give you an academic point of view and the whole purpose of storytelling is to give you a fundamental understanding of storytelling and you can apply in your life. Young people have given the skills senses that are required for tomorrow. You would be able to carry the leverage the skill sets and be able to progress forward in your career path.” He added the purpose of storytelling bridges the gap between perception and reality.

Furthermore, he added- “The purpose of this workshop is to give you an academic point of view and the whole purpose of storytelling is to give you a fundamental understanding of storytelling. thus, the fundamental purpose can be used in life.

Process of Storytelling

Storytelling is an act or process in which storyteller can share ideas or emotions or information with the audience. The best way to convey a successful story is through effective communication with the audience. The effectiveness of storytelling can be evaluated based on the impact of the story on the life of the audience. The story must be relatable to the everyday life of the audience. Understanding the process of storytelling includes two agents first, `storyteller´, and second `audience´ whereas different ideas, information, emotions, etc. be the means or process of storytelling.

Mr. Thushan shared that a story that makes an impact on the audience for decades is successful storytelling. He explained we need to understand the power of narrative so that we understand how the narratives can share the perceptions. The narrative as an important role to make people understand and define the story. We can simply see the narrative of a story in a simple sentence, he added. Before conveying your message, you must know about who is a storyteller (narrator)? Who is the audience? The story may be manipulated according to the narrative’s point of view either a positive viewpoint or a negative viewpoint. The narrative is the soul of the story. The narrative is one sider. The narrator only exists within the world of the story and presents it in a way the audience can grasp. That’s why narrative is a heart of storytelling. Therefore, the narrative is also driving the force of the story. Besides this, he explained the popular narratives project areas with the examples.

To make the workshop more interesting, Mr. Thushan came up with an interesting activity, and requested participants to share their opinion,” The 10 things that come in your mind when you think about Africa.” The participants actively shared their ideas and solid perception along with addressing a negative and positive viewpoint. Also, he briefly described his perception with some examples as well.

Meanwhile, he explained the tools of storytelling and its importance. There are many tools used in storytelling. Tools are anything that facilitated the process of storytelling. Similarly, he added some basis of storytelling that are used in daily life i.e. photography, writing, cartoon, etc. Tools for storytelling also play a significant role to facilitate narrative to convey the message (might be a picture or any other tools). It might also be song, music, action, etc., in a movie. The actor can be considered as a tool (cast) as well as the director as a narrative to comprehend the story to the audience. These days memories are also one of the main effective tools of storytelling. The best tools in digital storytelling include mobile photography and digital graffiti (MEMES) which helps to convey information most efficiently even to uneducated ones. It is interesting, and one of the effective tools to simplify complex ideas into simple ones.

Likewise, Mr. Thushan introduced the paradigm-shifting in storytelling leads to the democratization of storytelling. There are certain attributes in this paradigm-shifting such as the internet revolution. Internet revolution empowering people to reach out to the millions of audiences. Therefore, they have been medium to the narrative spiking the attention, liberating the audience, and connecting the people miles away throughout the world. Besides this, the smartphone revolution has also brought historic momentum providing the platform to everyone to own it and use it, to tell their stories that were limited to the big box, i.e. computer. This was another revolution that accelerated the storytelling whereas the social media revolution came up connecting with the public to tell their stories.

The fundamental purpose of storytelling bridges the gap between perception and reality; it brings people closer to reality and the reflection of community or idea to the targeted audience. It provides an opportunity for anyone. The storytelling process platform gives a platform to amalgamate the skills.

“While doing everything in your life, you can still share your stories to the community, reclaim the narratives; so that youth community narrator to stay strong because our stories are better told by us. And there is no one better to tell us stories than we do,” opined Mr. Thushan. He added -Storytelling is a life skill. Don’t get afraid of comment and failure just start right from today, keep on trying and move on if you want to be a successful storyteller.


At the end of the session, the workshop moved towards the Question and Answer session in which all participants were asked to raise their questions. The skillful workshop ended with a very insightful discussion on the practice of using digital tools and the fundamental power of storytelling, and tips to make the story attractive and informative.