Kishan Patel and Emily Calton O’Keeffe: ‘We talked for ages. We talk fast.’ Photograph: Cliona O’Flaherty for the Guardian

N4 Ireland features in the Guardian: “Teenagers trade personal stories: ‘It’s great to find you are not alone’ “(Guardian UK)

From The Guardian (UK): These students from Birmingham and Limerick have only just met. What did a weekend of sharing their most intimate stories teach them?

In 2012, the Irish author Colum McCann and a group of fellow writers hit on an idea. They were at a festival in the US, and it started with a challenge they set themselves: “What is the highest aim of storytelling, and how can we harness that energy to transform our society?” They believed the stories they told had power – writers are not short of confidence – but could they change the world? McCann believed they could. Art for society’s sake.

What emerged from that was an organisation called Narrative 4, which puts a story exchange between disparate, sometimes antagonistic groups at its heart. You pair up, swap stories from one another’s lives and then tell each other’s story back to the group in the first person. The theory is that telling someone else’s story will give you what McCann, who heads the organisation with co-founder Lisa Consiglio, calls “radical empathy”. For that moment, you become the other, possibly an “other” to whom you had previously been hostile.

Read more at The Guardian