International speaker offers ideas to help residents address issues of social justice, race relations

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International speaker offers ideas to help residents address issues of social justice, race relations

Join Kiran Singh Sirah for “Telling Stories that Matter: Cultivating Community through Story,” a public presentation at Charleston Main Library at 6 p.m. on Feb. 5 to explore the role of storytelling as a tool for conflict prevention, community development and social change. Through examples of social justice, race relations and community cooperation, Sirah will explain how personal relations developed through storytelling can help residents better discuss and work through these difficult conversations. 

Sirah's visit to Charleston also will include a three-hour workshop with juniors and seniors at Burke High School during the afternoon of Feb. 5. The workshop will give students the opportunity to work under Sirah's direction to craft and tell their own stories that can be shared March 12 at the Charleston Tells Storytelling Festival.

Whether to entertain, educate, heal, or resolve conflict, stories are the most fundamental way that people connect. The power of storytelling is unquestionable, and recognizing stories as creative expression helps to better understand the anxieties, dreams and aspirations that link humanity with community building.

This program is part of a CCPL series that explores race, identity and civic engagement in response to recent tragic events in the Charleston area, most notably the mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in June 2015, which tragically took the lives of nine Charleston residents, including long-time CCPL staff member, Cynthia Graham Hurd. This series is intended to promote healing, dialogue and collaboration in Charleston. Program partners include the College of Charleston, The Women’s Resource Center, and the City of Charleston Housing Authority.

Sirah is president of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tenn., a UNESCO advisory member, a Rotary Peace Fellow, storyteller and slam poet. A proven peace builder and advocate for the arts, Sirah has spoken about the power of story at the United Nations Headquarters, where he delivered the keynote address at Rotary International U.N. Day in 2012. As a Rotary Peace Fellow, he has worked with homeless populations, marginalized high school students, gang members and conflict-wracked communities from Northern Ireland, Colombia, Palestine and Israel. Through his international background and perspective, Sirah explains that sharing stories is “more than a human right, it’s an act of love that can change the world.”

This presentation is funded by the International Storytelling Center, The Humanities CouncilSC, the South Carolina Arts Commission, the Charleston Friends of the Library, and Charleston Tells Storytelling Festival, a production of the Charleston County Public Library.  Media Contact: Kim Bowlin at 843-805-6884.

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