DePaul University Partners for Strategic Storytelling

Throughout a ten-week period in the first months of this year, the Goldin Institute has been engaged with students in Professor Lisa Dush’s “Writing Digital Content” course at DePaul University, in a service-learning partnership. A senior advisor to the organization for the GATHER platform, Professor Dush invited the institute to engage with a team of four graduate students--Hannah Colwill, Rachel Landgraf, Delasha Long, and Adam Obringer--for the eventual development of a “Content Strategy Report” following in-person and virtual consultations with staff members.

[quote]Working with real organizations not only gives my students a way to apply concepts they’re learning, it also gives them ownership of an important project over the duration of the term. Organizations like the Goldin Institute exposes my students to all the great work being done by Chicago-area nonprofits.[/quote]

In this partnership, the emphasis is on documenting the important aspects of an organization’s content strategy that have not yet been documented: for example: Who are the organization’s key audiences? What are its key messages? What platforms is the organization posting on, and how often? What engagement are they getting, and how does that compare with peer organizations?

The Content Strategy report produced by the DePaul graduate students on behalf of the Goldin Institute included half a dozen major recommendations, as well as the development of “personas” to assist in identifying core audiences for the institute’s digital content, as well as a review of social media and website material, and a recommended calendar for dissemination of information via the organization’s multiple outlets.

Lisa Dush, an Assistant Professor in DePaul’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Discourse

Dush, an Assistant Professor in DePaul’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Discourse undertakes research on new media storytelling and organizational processes. Previously, she founded and led a Boston-based company called “Storybuilders.” Dr. Dush has worked with the Goldin Institute for several years as a Senior Advisor on the Gather platform and has led a "Digital Storytelling" workshop in Port au Prince for our partners in Haiti. 

[quote]Partnering with organizations like the Goldin helps my students to understand the challenges of executing a content strategy in a real organizational setting,” explains Dush. “There is nothing like getting to know a particular organization like the Goldin—including its mission, its priorities, and its constraints—to make real the theory we read and the ideas we learn."[/quote]


Goldin Institute Successfully Returns to Uganda

This June, Institute co-founders Diane Goldin and Travis Rejman returned to Uganda to participate in our first ever cross-continental Child Soldier Reintegration and Reconciliation Training Workshops. Because of her work in developing and using the ESPERE methodology in her native Colombia, our Global Associate Lissette Mateus Roa was the natural candidate to lead the training in Uganda.

Before bringing this project to Africa, Lissette worked closely with our partner and her advisor, Fr. Leonel Narvaez designing and successfully testing the ESPERE methodology to engage local communities by using schools as centers for reconciliation for former child soldiers in the region. We highlighted their work and what this looks like on-the-ground in Colombia in previous reports.

To best adapt the training to our colleagues in Africa, an intensive eight-day workshop was conducted wherein participants learned about the key concepts of forgiveness and reconciliation, and obtained tools to carry these ideas forward within their communities.

In all, Lissette successfully trained 16 individuals made up of child combatants, teachers, crisis counselors and community members. These participants represented five different regions of Northern Africa and because each certified trainer committed to individual action plans upon completion, the outreach within their communities will impact many more potential trainees. In short, Lissette has left a "teaching tree" model in place that we hope to see expand and carry forth the ESPERE program within the region.


[quote]My expectations were different than the reality in Africa, normally the mass media shows to the world the bad things about Africa, I was expecting some kind of hungry people, in a dusty or dirty environment, waiting for water and food. But, I realized (once there and on the ground) that they have needs, but also they have so many good things that the mass media doesn't talk about: they are a happy and generous people, (there are) amazing buildings for education, they are bilinguals and have spoken their own language and English since they were kids, they have some kind of sense of community that we have lost in our developed societies, and is highly necessary for healing our societies – they are ahead of the game in that sense. I realized we have as many things to learn from them as they can learn from us. I'm not saying everything is perfect, I'm just saying that not everything is bad, and there is great hope for the future because of the people. Moreover, I was expecting a very rough place but it was a beautiful place for the workshop."[/quote]

- Global Associate and program facilitator, Lissette Mateus Roa


Lissette's excerpted comments above are from a conversation with her upon her return from Africa. The full interview can be found here.

In coming months, we look forward to sharing the results of the action plans established by the trainees at Lissette's ESPERE workshop, as they carry out the mission to bring societal changes to their own communities in Northern Africa. If you would like to become more involved supporting this project, find out how you can help.

[slide] [img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_1.jpg"]Co-founder's Diane Goldin and Travis Rejman meet with Everest Okwonga, the Principal at St. Janani Luwum Vocational Training Centre[/img] [img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_2.jpg"]Co-founder's Diane Goldin and Travis Rejman meet with students at a trade school for former child combatants in Gulu[/img] [img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_3.jpg"]Co-founder Diane Goldin meets with students in a Gulu classroom during the Institute's June2014 trip to the region to take part on child soldier reintegration efforts[/img][img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_4.jpg"]Participants of a workshop conducted by Global Associate Lissette Mateus Roa take part in one of the exercises teaching 'forgiveness'[/img][img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_5.jpg"] Global Associate Lissette Mateus Roa (bottom left) and her group of ESPERE students. Also included is friend and colleague and Associate emeritus Dr. Dorcas Kiplagat (standing 5th from right)[/img] [img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_6.jpg"]Participants of the ESPERE workshop during a training session[/img][img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_7.jpg"]Global Associate Lissette Mateus Roa (standing) leads a training session in Gulu[/img][img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_9.jpg"]Global Associate Lissette Mateus conducts an exercise with participants of the ESPERE workshop in June 2014[/img][img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_15.jpg"]Global Associate Lissette Mateus (sitting foreground) leads her ESPERE training group[/img][img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_28.jpg"]Co-founder Diane Goldin meets with students at the St Janani Vocational School. The School is made up of mostly former child soldiers learning new skills (like carpentry in this classroom) to rejoin civilian life.[/img] [img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_27.jpg"]The workshop attended by former child combatants[/img][img path="images/slideshow/full/uganda2014_34.jpg"]Institute co-founder Diane Goldin meets with Ajok Dorah - a psychologist specializing in giving counsel to former child combatants returning to their communities.[/img][/slide]