A story about (hi)stories

This method is designed to add an archive containing the (polyphonic) voices of young people to the Archive of Refuge. The histories and narratives in the Archive are written up and narrated. In so doing, the young participants complement narratives from the Archive of Refuge with their own histories and experience. With this in mind, various aspects within the biographies of those who have experienced racism are discussed and a variety of narrative approaches are addressed. Drawing on the storytelling method, participants identify and work up similarities and differences to their own lives. After this, the stories from the Archive of Refuge are expanded by stories from the young people formulated in written contributions, voice messages or video statements.

Time Frame

(3h – 4h)

Recommanded Age group

13 years and over


critique of racism,

storytelling, empowerment, resistance, critique of racism and discrimination, classism, privilege, multilingualism, plural identity

Digital tools and practices

  • Video / moving image
  • data visualisation
  • non-linear storytelling
  • audio production
  • Etherpad
  • Padlet

Technical equipment for participants

  • Smartphone/tablet
  • Internet / online


Creative Commons Lizenzvertrag
This educational content is licensed under a Creative Commons Namensnennung 4.0 International Lizenz.

You can use, adapt and republish this educational material as you wish as long as you indicate the names of those who created it as follows:

CC-BY 4.0 medialepfade.org; Aleksandar Vejnovic, Katrin Hünemörder, Dr Christine Kolbe, Daniel Seitz, Eva Hasel, Birte Frische, Christine Lordong, Sika Dede Puhlmann, Mohammed Habibullah Scheikani

Access + bridge to the Archive of Refuge

The process begins with an introduction to the Archive of Refuge, highlighting its importance in conveying the voices of refugees who have been marginalised or excluded. The diverse voices in the Archive of Refuge tell multi-layered stories of childhood, family, countries of origin and fleeing. This is the point of departure for the young participants as they watch video sequences from the Archive of Refuge. 
The participants can choose freely which sequences from the Archive they want to watch. They have a limited time frame to do this. 
The participants use Padlet (digital notice board) to make notes about specific keywords (like culture, language, childhood) in the context of racist exclusion. 
They should note down thoughts and impressions that strike them while watching the video sequences.
They use the Archive as a source of inspiration to tell their own stories and as an introduction to the theme.

Learning sites | face-to-face + online

The primary target group is young people in schools and out-of-school facilities (such as neighbourhood centres, public libraries, residential communities, associations, youth clubs, theatre groups etc.). The size of the group will range from 10 to 20 participants.

Learning objectives Options and potential for action

The workshop participants will develop a critical awareness of social relations. This includes understanding that racism and discrimination lead to individual stories being drowned out in narratives about refugees as a group because they are homogenised and simplified. The experience-based knowledge of participants about decisive past events (e.g. from childhood or in a family context) is worked into a complementary narrative from their different perspectives. The aim of the learning processes in this unit is to make individual identities more visible. The method also aims to enable as many of those present as possible who are in similar situations to benefit from stories of experience that are rarely accessible in this way. The product of this process is a “history of experience”. This is usually a personal retelling of events recorded in writing. Finally, the method is intended to improve the participants’ ability to store knowledge and contextualise their own experience.

Schemata that draw on racism and are learnt and appropriated through the media are available at all levels of society as potential resources for signification and action. It follows that racism exerts a permanent influence without us being aware of it. Acquiring this insight during the workshop fosters a capacity to act, because racism is constituted by collective images, narratives and social institutions that are felt and consolidated daily as historically evolved and current power relations. 

The format is relevant to society as a whole because it highlights individual stories, thereby helping to prevent this abundance of stories from becoming lost. Communities are strengthened when their circumstances and marginalisation are finally heard and flagged up. In this way, stories are created that enable people in mainstream society to develop empathy and marginalised people to feel represented. The format is intended to generate a broad network of storytellers and to create more scope for the articulation of their own, marginalised histories. 

This format is applied in settings such as public libraries and community centres with a broad outreach. Ideally the workshop will be announced in advance and publicised on appropriate channels so that anyone interested will be able to participate. This method can be implemented both face-to-face and online.

Detailed workshop description 

Stories are told in many situations from kitchen table conversations to religious rituals. Or else in the Archive of Refuge, where the narrators are expected to focus when telling their story on (sometimes traumatic) decisive events in their past. Some storytelling situations require spontaneity, while others are formal. Some situations require specific themes, attitudes and artistic techniques. Most of all, however, telling stories stimulates the active imagination of listeners. In this respect, the storytelling method, as an interactive form of the art of cloaking the elements and images of a story in words and actions and arousing listeners’ imaginations, are woven into the Archive of Refuge context.


As this format conveys complex, sensitive knowledge, it is essential that the workshop leaders prepare deeply and adequately, acquiring knowledge about racism and how it is anchored in society, about critiques of racism and about applying language that reflects an awareness of discrimination. They should have an understanding of concepts such as privilege and of current discourse on multilingualism and contributions to the critique of racism and discrimination. The young participants should be perceived individually within the context of their specific circumstances. Their reports of discrimination must at all events be taken seriously. It is essential, moreover, to develop and display a personal attitude to racism and all forms of discrimination.


Warm-up exercises (15 min): The warm-up includes a sociometric introduction. 

The sociometric introduction helps to relax the atmosphere and establish initial contacts. 

Notes on the method: The participants are asked to stand up. Depending on the question, they are asked to find a position within the space. (Questions might be: Is your name German in origin? Do other people find it tricky to pronounce your name? Were you born in Germany? Do you speak more than one language? Have you ever encountered discrimination?) The team leaders might like to join in. If there is a straight Yes or No answer, the participants might be asked to go to a particular corner of the room. Or they might be grouped in clusters, e.g. Corner 1 = 4 or more languages, Corner 2 = 1 language, Corner 3 = up to 3 languages. The participants can, of course, discuss the groupings. The key message to put across is that the aim here is to get to know each other and not to compete. The method can be used as an introduction to the theme. 


A 15-minute input in the form of a short presentation provides an initial overview of key aspects and facts about the Archive of Refuge and the background to its creation.

(5 min. break)

Task 1: (30 min.)

After the warm-up and once the workshop leaders have introduced themselves and explained the schedule, the participants will start exploring the Archive. First, the participants break out into pairs and decide for themselves which video sequences they want to watch. They are asked to make notes as they watch the videos. The following questions should help to jog memories: 

Where does the interviewee’s story take place? 

What languages does the person speak? 

What is the name of the person in the video sequence? 

What does the person say about their childhood and family? 

Why did the person flee their country?

In what ways did the person experience racism or discrimination? 

What does the person talk about?

What conflicts are there? 

What successes or achievements are mentioned?

(5 min. break) 

Task 2: (30 min.)

Presentation of results / Participants re-narrate what they have seen: The pairs then re-tell the content of the video sequence they have watched for the rest of the group and respond to the questions from the Padlet. Each member of the pair can complement the other as they narrate together. 

Input (15 min.)

Another input (part 2 of the above-mentioned presentation) with a focus on the themes privilege, capacity for action and critique of racism serves to embed the Archive narratives within the set themes. 

(5 min. break)

Task 3: (45 min.)

The participants compare the narrative from the Archive with personal stories from their own lives and interweave the two.

This task involves both young people who have personal experience as refugees and/or of racism and those who have none. 

The following questions and statements may help the participants as they write their story or create their voice message or video statement: 

  • Like the person in the video, I too have experienced …. 
  • Unlike the person in the video, I speak …. 
  • Sometimes people in Germany can’t pronounce my name …..
  • I am privileged because I ……
  • Compared with the person in the video….
  • I have often encountered discrimination ….
  • …. I didn’t know how to react….
  • The experience the person in the video describes is very familiar to me … / something I have never encountered ….
  • The hero of this story is …. because …..
  • We can all help to counter various forms of discrimination by…..
  • One solution could be ….
  • Everyone is equally valuable.
  • Racism must be called out because …. so that ….

Reflections (10 min.)

At the end of the workshop the following questions are put to the participants: 

  • Which video did you watch and why? 
  • Are you interested in seeing more of these videos? 
  • Did you enjoy the first task about retelling the video? 
  • Will you dive deeper into the Archive of Refuge? 
  • How did you like writing up your story? 
  • How hard or easy is it for you to write? 
  • Did anything from the Archive of Refuge remind you of events in your own life? 
  • How do you like Padlet as a tool? 

Next steps

If there is a need to correct the grammar of the stories, an editorial task force can be set up to check the whole Padlet. This task force can be assisted by adults with editorial skills

Reflection and evaluation also serve retrospectively to improve and optimise the workshop. 

Transfer and further options

Depending how motivated the participants are, they might like to publicise the stories they have written more widely and reach a bigger audience. Participants who are interested in writing like journalists will be able at the workshop to demonstrate their skills or display their creative, expressive side. As a further option, the stories can be disseminated on various platforms.  


After the format has been implemented, the young people’s stories (assuming consent is given) can be made available to a wider audience. A follow-up format might, for example, involve a broader form of dissemination/publication of the content. The outcomes are sustainable because they are published on the Padlet and can be topped up with further stories. It would be a helpful to link the Archive of Refuge to the story archive or storytelling Padlet.