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workshop

Gifts from our Ancestors : A Storytelling Course about Family Tales

This course is a unique and inspirational process designed by storyteller-facilitators
Stella Kassimati and Pelin Turgut to empower anyone to find, craft and share their family stories, especially around themes of loss, exile, belonging and making a new home.

We are all carriers of our family stories – of their strength, resilience and love, as well as the stories that were hidden or silenced out of shame, fear or simply the need to survive. These stories may live on in us like an echo. Giving them a voice is a deeply empowering process. We feel lighter,  strengthened, more connected to our roots and a renewed sense of engagement with the world. Join this powerful movement to redeem these lost stories and ground them in our humanity today by recognising the gifts they carry for our own life.

The Process

A memory or an experience is not yet a story and lacks the impact a powerful tale can deliver. Our process draws on biographical storytelling techniques as well as insights from indigenous traditions and systemic approaches which see the individual as part of a line stretching from the past into the future. Many native traditions say that we carry the prayers of those who walked the earth seven generations before  — yet we in the West are often cut off from this felt sense of continuity. Our approach helps restore that connection, so that love and strength can flow to us from our roots. These stories are the best medicine we know of at this time to promote connection instead of fear.

The experience of loss of place, we’ve discovered, comes in many shades — all are welcome. From children being sent to the workhouse, to people fleeing poverty, to the Holocaust and its effects, to colonial legacies, we are continually inspired by the rich diversity of our groups. Sharing these tales is a deeply empowering process for the teller and a great gift for the listener.

What Participants Say

“Stella and Pelin navigated sensitive story with utter kindness and professionalism. They didn’t waste a second and generously gave of themselves to allow the stories to emerge. The work they do is vital at this moment. What they are doing is bringing sorely needed stories into the world. We need more of this.” Glenys Newton, writer and storyteller

“This work shifted something profound inside, relating to identity and a celebration of my ancestral family, in spite of some deep sadness within my ancestral story.” Shane Lewis Ibbs, teacher and storyteller

“Wonderful team support from Stella and Pelin that allowed balance of crafting with room for emotional truth and respect.”  Claire Kaplan, project consultant

About the Facilitators

We met, a Greek and a Turk, some years ago and began a tentative friendship.
We had both been raised to see the other as an enemy. Indeed, travel between our neighbouring countries was forbidden until very recently. As we grew closer, we uncovered stories of loss and exile in both our families that crisscrossed the Aegean Sea. As professional storytellers, we began to share these tales and saw how audiences took them to heart. People of all backgrounds began spontaneously sharing their own family stories. As experienced facilitators who teach storytelling all over Europe, we developed this course out of our own personal experience.

Book your place

Places are limited to 12 and offered on a first come, first served basis.

Practicals

Please bring your own lunch or alternatively there are many places around the Hellenic Centre offering lunch