Development Studies
06 March 2019

Story Spark: Six Minutes Stories

MDEV-student Hannah Renée Fazio is co-founder of the initiative Story Spark.

Story Spark

 Hannah Renée Fazio is in her second year of studies for a Master in Development Studies at the Graduate Institute. She is also the co-founder of the initiative Story Spark and its third storytelling night in Geneva will take place on 15 March 2019.

One of the most exciting aspects of moving to Geneva and attending the Graduate Institute has been the incredible, inspiring people from all over the world that I have had the chance to meet. From sharing strawberries by the lake to cups of coffee in the Graduate Institute cafeteria, I was able to share stories and hear the beautiful, sad, funny vignettes in people’s lives that have led them to this moment.

Before moving to Switzerland, I was in Taiwan with the support of a Fulbright Research Grant studying the same-sex marriage movement. I realized the strength and power of personal storytelling, that it can be the spark that ignites a movement at the grassroots level, a tool that can help connect people and celebrate diversity. Moving later into an international hub, in Geneva, I wanted to draw together the Graduate Institute, local and UN communities, and others, around storytelling in the belief that storytelling is a bridge that can connect different peoples.

Thus, the opportunity presented itself during my first semester at IHEID. I took a Graduate Institute MINT workshop on Personal Presence and Business Storytelling with Matthias Anderegg, one of the most empowering and inspiring workshops I’ve had the privilege of attending, and the idea for Story Spark organically occurred. We wanted to create an event that aspires to bring together people from all walks of life to share and listen to stories related to the theme of the night.

For each of the events that Matthias Anderegg and I host in Geneva we choose a theme that the storytellers must relate their story to. The first event was “Leap of Faith,” the second one was “Lost in Translation,” and our next event on March 15th has as theme “Unlikely Friendships.” We preselect six storytellers in advance and leave a few open-mic spots for those who are inspired the night of. In six minutes, the storyteller must tell a true, first-person narrative relating to the theme of the night, with creative license!

We believe everyone has a great story to tell. Matthias Anderegg, a trained storytelling coach, works with every storyteller to help develop their story. We’ve had storytellers of all ages and backgrounds at our past event, including Graduate Institute students, and through heartwarming, funny, shocking, and inspiring stories, we have been able to weave together a larger narrative celebrating the beauty and diversity of the human experience!

We are delighted to see that Story Spark has in fact sparked interest around Switzerland. We are now receiving requests to organize storytelling nights in places such as Bern and Zurich.

Access the website here

Shannon Story Spark
Story Spark really allowed me a safe space to grow as a first-time story teller. It was a leap of faith to share a part of my larger life story with an audience of friends, acquaintances, and strangers.