Updating our story: Storyteller Formation

Storytelling is the community connector that has accompanied us since our early human beginnings huddled around campfires and has been an essential part of Primed since 2016. Being a storyteller allows us to share experiences, create understanding and paint unseen realities with our communities.  We can be empowered by our own narrative, using and evolving our story to shape a new future. 

Since 2016 Primed has been working with communities around Colombia using storytelling, the English language, and the formation of life skills to help people in situations of vulnerability take control of their situation and use it to their advantage. Through community collaboration and personal development, we are able to form Storytellers that utilise their experience and their community´s stories to have meaningful and decent work. Through just over a year of training we are able to prepare local tour guides and help dynamize the local economy to respond to sustainable tourism and facilitate immersive experiences.

It was difficult to continue our community work during the global pandemic but during the height of restrictions we continued offering our learning opportunities online. It was an amazing experience opening up our community tostudents all over the world and from each continent. 

In august of 2021, thanks to the support from Recon Colombia and the Swedish Embassy we were able to continue and expand our Storyteller project in Moravía, Medellín – an amazingly resilient community that has transformed what was the old garbage tip into a thriving cultural space. We have continued the classes until the end of 2021 with the hope of returning to Moravía in 2022 to finish the process and help the community offer their amazing tours and experiences.

Moravía represents the continuation and evolution of a grassroots program that started at the top of the electric escalators in Comuna 13 back in 2016. The model has constantly improved over time and has been adapted to various contexts, not just in Medellín but around Colombia. In Moravía we are currently in formative process with 40 people from and related to the community that are interested in developing sustainable local tourism.

  • Of the 40 people, the majority are women (75% women); young people are the main beneficiaries (78% are between 12 and 31 years old).
  • It benefits vulnerable populations (Socioeconomic stratum 1 (15%), 2 (65%) and 3 (20%). 13% report being displaced by violence and another 13% have some type of disability.
  • 60% of the students live in Moravia and 75% are from commune 4 in Medellín.
  • We find that 28% are high school students, 35% are university students and only 8% are university professionals. The rest, 30% have completed high school.
  • In the baseline we have that the initial level of English in the group in general was low: 33% considered it very low, 30% low.
  • Only 40% report having received previous English classes, almost all at university or college but consider that they did not learn much of the language.
  • 63% of the students are part of community organizations related to tourism. And 40% have already worked in the tourism sector, either as a guide or as logistical or administrative support. Several are part of handicraft ventures or are artists who muralize neighborhoods.

Storyteller Development

Sometimes it’s a little hard to keep track of what we have been up to since 2016 and where we have been. Here is a timeline of how Storytellers has developed since its humble beginnings coming out of the Stairway to English classes that Primed facilitated in San Javier to where we are at the end of 2021. 

Through our process during the COVID pandemic that affected the globe in 2020-2021 we were lucky to get noticed by SAP in our application during the process of Social innomarathon and we were able o take full advantage of the pre-acceleration workshops. Now focused on the expansion of our Storyteller Formation project, Primed is looking for support in expanding its commercial focus through its social reach and development of cursos and biopsychosocial mechanisms for our learning platform. Through operating an integrated learning platform with language courses, as well as personal development and life skills content, the plan for Storytellers is to expand the project nationally, connecting it with its supporters virtually and allowing for our diverse community to connect, learn and share culture.

We are also strengthing our offer for the corporate sector, adjusting our community learning methodologies to support human resource departments with education, team wellbeing and social responsibility. Through some initial interactions, we’ve seen the benefit of connecting socially conscious businesses with our community projects to the benefit of both groups. Our dream is to scale responsibly while maintaining our clear purpose, social impact and support for communities in situations of vulnerability.

As a connected learning community, we are always open to strategic allies. If you would like to support the project or feel like you could contribute please don’t hesitate to contact our community. Many people have connected with us over the years in different ways. We’ve listed a few below if you’re are interested in connecting with Primed Community.

Ways to support Storyteller formation

  • If you are related to sales and commercial strategies or you have contacts with tourism agencies and other entities, you could support the design of growth and expansion strategies for the “Storytellers” project so that many people from all over the world can live this experience when they visit Colombia and thus generating income for the individuals and families of those communities.
  • If you have contacts with companies and their areas of corporate social responsibility, international cooperation agencies, donors and / or charities that can be identified with this proposal, the connection would be of great help.
  • If you have contacts with the media through which to promote and spread the message of this proposal, you would help us reach many more people.
  • By purchasing our language learning packages (English and / or Spanish), you help finance our company and continue our social work.
  • If you have contacts with companies, educational institutions, groups of people interested in learning English or Spanish and potentially linking it with life skills and personal development, talking to them about us expands our expansion possibilities.

General Project results

  • +1000 students trained in English for free (classes, workshops, conversation clubs, etc.)
  • +30 guides (storytellers) trained to give tours in English. The first local bilingual guides from the 13th district of Medellín were graduates of our process.
  • We have tours with local guides from the “Storytellers” platform in San Javier, Santo Domingo and Moravia.
  • Multiple community activations: urban gardens, tours, lunches, artistic interventions and other workshops focused on life skills, personal development and community tourism.
  • Exchange experiences between Colombians and foreign volunteers who accompanied the learning process by setting up a global network.
  • Articulation with community, business and government actors.