BBC News features Narrative 4

BBC News’ Jessica Lussenhop reports on Narrative 4’s empathy-into-action campaign in North Dakota and Minnesota.

In mid-2017, Concordia College launched a series of story exchanges designed to create open and profound dialogue amongst diverse communities in Minnesota, the two Dakotas and the 24 Tribal Nations. Host citizens, immigrants, students, artists, educators and administrators participate in a simple exercise in empathy, the Narrative 4 story exchange. Concordia College Professor Dawn Duncan, one of N4’s Master Practitioner nominees, is spearheading the effort, which, under the auspices of the Open Society Foundations’ Communities Against Hate grant, kicked off last year and will continue this year.

BBC News covered the first of the story exchanges in the series last spring. Click here to read the article. 

BBC News

“And so, on a warm spring morning in early April, a group of 16 men and women gathered on the campus of Concordia College. There are two women wearing hijabs, another in a traditional Somali shash head covering. There are also women with bobbed haircuts and cardigans, men in plaid shirts, and one in a camouflage ball cap and boots with an American flag pattern stitched into the leather…”

– Jessica Lussenhop, BBC News

Among the participants was Damon Ouradnik, a 40-year-old automation technician who started a petition to stop the refugee resettlement in Fargo/Moorhead. He was partnered with Arday Ardayfio, a businessman and Ghanian who immigrated to the US in the 1990s. Hukun Abdullahi, a 22-year old Somali refugee, was partnered with Nick Reitan, a college student and lifelong Fargo resident from a military and police family. And another 12 participants were partnered with someone from their town that they had never met. They sat face-to-face, knee-to-knee, and told one another a story. Then, they told their partner’s story in first person to the whole group.

Friendships were created and perceptions were changed. Arday reflected, “My biggest take home was definitely to listen more and to reach out to other people from other cultures.” Gina Sandgren, a participant and native Fargo/Moorhead resident, wrote, “The experience definitely cultivated empathy, which was radical because it happened quickly. I walked in a stranger on Friday night, and by Sunday I had 16 new friends/acquaintances from around the world….all living in this community.”