The New Storytellers supports authors of children's literature who give voice to Roma characters.
This year, Cu Alte Cuvinte - a Romanian NGO - brings together a group of children from Bucharest and two beloved authors in a series of 12 storytelling workshops. The stories that they produce will serve as a source of inspiration for an illustrated book that will be published and donated to local school libraries and NGOs.
Our storytellers live in Ferentari, a Bucharest neighborhood that shelters one of its most disenfranchised communities and where a significant number of Roma children are exposed to exclusion, discrimination, and sometimes abuse. Their daily life might be marred by insecurity and inequality, and yet when they come together, they open up: they are bright, playful, and inquisitive. Our storytellers are among the 200 children and teenagers currently engaged in a wide variety of activities offered by The Alternative Education Club, including art, journalism, and storytelling workshops; street-dance and sports; remedial education and mentoring.
They are ready to become the heroes of their own narratives and share their stories with you!
Adina is a beloved author of adults and children’s books alike. She wrote Miss Aftertomorrow and the Game of Time, that was featured in The White Ravens, the Frankfurt International Book Fair in 2015 and Why do witches fly on brooms…and other ten fantastic questions. She is also a reporter, editor and contributor writer for various publications.
Irina is a celebrated illustrator of children’s books and one of the few female comics artists from Romania. She studied at the National University of Fine Arts in Bucharest until 2003 and co-founded the Illustrators Club in Romania. She illustrated numerous children’s books and she won the Arthur Prize in 2014 for writing and illustrating The Story of a Poker Playing Wolf.
Working closely with a community facilitator, our authors will design and deliver 12 storytelling workshops for a group of 12 Roma children ranging from 10 to 12 years old. The workshops are meant not only to serve as documentation but also to enhance the participants’ creativity and to develop their storytelling skills. The children will develop stories through creative games, drawings, short video recordings, and writing.
The authors will then use the collected narratives to write an illustrated book infused by the children's stories and by the rich tradition of Roma folktales.
In the long run, we strive to replicate this project in other European countries and to organize creative writing workshops for aspiring Roma authors.
We successfully piloted our project from June to September 2016, when we co-authored a community-based urban art initiative - Live From Giulești. A team of artists worked for two days with 19 children and teenagers from Giulești-Sârbi, a marginalized neighborhood on the outskirts of Bucharest.
We engaged the participants in five different challenges that prompted them to share stories about their life, through creative activities and a final interview. They also took pictures of their neighborhood and they showed us their talents.
Gabriela teaches at Brandeis University. She previously taught at Dartmouth College and has international experience through the Institut Français network. Her belief that culture should embrace diversity led her to specialize in Cultural Project Design and Coordination during Master’s degree studies at Sorbonne University.
Maria lives in the Ferentari neighborhood and she joined the Alternative Education Club in 2011. She is deeply passionate about non-formal education methods that develop creativity in children and she is always there to help them with their homework. Maria is also involved in remedial education.
Cris has 5-years of experience in the field of educational and cultural cooperation between France and Romania. She worked as a French teacher with Chinese students at the Sun Yat-sen University. Her interest in social action has led her to an internship in the Directorate General of Employment, Social Affairs, and Inclusion at the European Commission.
Magda is an Instructor at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University. She is the Director of the Roma Program, which focuses on innovative research strategies and critical analysis of scholarly production regarding Roma. Her research spans the rights of Roma children and adolescents, segregation in education, and participatory action research.
The Policy Center for Roma and Minorities is our partner in this project through their Alternative Education Club (AEC). The AEC is a non-formal program started in 2010, which currently engages with over 200 Roma and non-Roma children from Ferentari. Its aim is to support children to break the circle of marginalization, poverty, and hopelessness, through sports and alternative education.
We also have a partnership with the Global Shapers Bucharest Hub.
To a large extent, in Romania, literature, cartoons, history books, and cultural and knowledge production in general have not valued the cultural diversity of the country and have not embraced Romani characters, stories, and tales. Romani children have not been able to identify with any past or modern hero who shares their looks or their background.
Characters and tales that reflect real world diversity have the power to steer children and teenagers towards acceptance, diversity, and inclusion. Romani characters and stories can not only boost Romani children’s pride and trust in their aspirations but can also contribute to building unbiased social interactions between Romani and non-Romani children.