Life writing & change: A story-exchange community-building experience

January 16, 2024
a person stands at a table while others work in a group

Brooke Pratt, PhD (PI) and Suzanne Rintoul, PhD (PI)

Reflective writing practices have been shown to be an effective way for students to think about their connections to their peers and their community. It also provides students with a method for articulating their anxieties in an ever-changing and uncertain world. Studies have gone as far to show that reflective writing and community-based writing can cultivate empathy as it allows students to look within and put themselves in empathic relations with others. Initially starting as a Conestoga New & Emerging Researcher Grant (CNERG) project during winter 2023 to explore best practices for developing community-engaged writing projects and a speaker series, this project expanded on the success of the first phase.  

Building on the results of the first phase, the second phase of this project focused on demonstrating how Conestoga students can use life writing as a tool for self-reflection and community building in response to change. In preparation for hosting a series of workshops for Conestoga students, the research team participated in an international conference in Denver, Colorado on community writing. The workshops focused on engaging with students to demonstrate the value of reflective storytelling. As a result, students used audio and visual elements to produce digital shorts that reflect on their experiences of change. 

This project draws on research supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. 

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