Building tolerance one story at a time

Students at Trafalgar High School will become ‘living books’ as part of a joint project between the Centre for Multicultural Youth and the United Muslim Sisters of the Latrobe Valley.

Dubbed ‘MY Story’, the project will give an opportunity for secondary students to hear personal accounts straight from young people from various cultural background in an effort to promote understanding and tolerance of other cultures.

The project is the first of its kind in Victoria and is patterned on the Living Library project, an oral storytelling initiative where a person becomes a “book” that the audience or “readers” can borrow.

“MY Story sessions will give secondary school students a chance to learn about culture and to have a personal interaction that may challenge any preconceived ideas as well as promote social cohesion in our community,” CMY team leader Cate Chaiyot said.

Fifty-four “living books” will participate in the pilot project set to run for several weeks at the school.

They include young people aged between 14 and 25 from South Korean, South Sudanese, Anglo-Australian, Indian, Filipino, Chinese, and Pakistani backgrounds.

“These young people will then go on to mentor and support Trafalgar High students to develop and deliver their own stories with their school peers,” Ms Chaiyot said.

MY Story participants will be using a variety of mediums to tell their stories with the support of local creative production Nanoo Nanoo Arts.

Ms Chaiyot said CMY and UMSLV planned to take the project to other schools in Gippsland over the next 18 months.

MY Story’s first session will be held at Trafalgar High library on 16 August from 12.30pm to 1.45pm.

It will continue for three more sessions on 23 and 30 August and on 6 September.