The Power of Storytelling

Franklyn Yadaicela '23 reflects on his Service Learning trip to Athens, Greece in Fall 2022.

“Jake and I like talking to people and hearing their stories,” said Franklyn Yadaicela ’23. On an academic service learning trip to Athens, Greece, Franklyn, and Jake Whent ’24 volunteered with Love Without Borders, an organization that works with children and adult refugees. The trip—part of the Storytelling for Social Justice course being offered with the Signature Academic Program, allowed Franklyn and his peers to learn, firsthand, the day-to-day challenges facing refugees. For Franklyn, it was a worldview-altering experience.

“Love Without Borders runs art workshops for children and adult artists to make their art, bring it back to the US or to other vendors, and get that work sold to raise money,” explained Franklyn “In addition to running an art workshop with younger children, my partner Jake and I had a goal of creating a podcast to interview some of the older artists and share their stories.”

“We chose podcasting as our medium because we felt that it let their [the refugees] voices shine through while documenting their stories and experiences,” said Franklyn “We wanted to give them a platform to tell their stories and share them with our listeners, and bring out the difficulty of their situations to light.”

“The most important aspect of our interview was creating boundaries so the refugees felt comfortable sharing their stories with us for the podcast,” Franklyn shared. “Most of the time we used open-ended questions and let them take it to a place they wanted. An interesting theme that occurred when we interviewed families was that the more outgoing folks would encourage quieter family members to share their stories as well. It was moving to see them empower one another in that moment to get their story out there, and use the podcast as an opportunity to share their real stories with other people.”

“Service learning exposes you to so many different parts of the world that you would never see when traveling for leisure,” Franklyn said. “For this trip, we prepared ahead of time and went with the sole purpose of helping people who need a platform to express themselves. Jake and I have also talked about continuing the podcast after George School because we fell in love with the process along the way.”

Since coming back from Greece, Franklyn realized that his perspective and worldview had undergone a significant change. “All the issues that I see on a day-to-day basis are minor compared to what I saw and experienced in Greece. I think about an interview with a refugee that Jake did that weighs on my mind. Jake interviewed him, and the refugee described the uncertainty of every day. He had no idea where he would eat, sleep, or do any of the things that we take for granted. Things like that put life into perspective for me,” Franklyn said. “The biggest lesson that I learned through this experience is to give back to everyone around me.”

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