Tales of Watan: Animation and Myth as a Participatory Storytelling Tool with Displaced Children.
Forced displacement because of war and political struggles followed by resettlement in a new country could form a turning point in the lives of the people affected in relation to their perceived identity, social connections and concept of home. Children and youth go through different experiences in dealing with these life changes than adults. Therefore, their stories are different. With the goal to empower children to share their personal narratives at heart, this project aims to document displaced children’s narratives about home using the combination of animation and myth and evaluate the effectiveness of the methodology and the resulting barriers and strengths in narrating stories about home and forced displacement. The paper focuses on the visual experience of a group of young Syrian girls in resettling in the Scarborough area in Toronto, Canada in 2016. The participants were asked to join a three days’ workshop to create short films using a participatory storytelling tool called “The Wanderer’s Journey.” A couple of weeks later, they were invited to bring family and friends to attend a community screening. As a part of the qualitative research, they were asked to evaluate their experience in the workshop in a group discussion. A thematic analysis was conducted on the transcript of the recording to determine the central themes. The girls reflected on the process, the product and the research methodology. They noted the importance of the process and the method in raising their artistic awareness about animation and self-expression tools, increasing their self-esteem and confidence to create and to lead. They also mentioned facing numerous challenges in teamwork, planning and technicality. By analyzing the stories and the recordings, we conclude that the children viewed the ongoing process of homemaking in Scarborough in enriching their active social connections both with pairs and family from ethnic and host communities, living in safety and stability and overcoming school and language difficulties.