On the 21st of September – The International Day of Peace – The Hague Peace Projects organized a storytelling event called ‘Living Library’. Peace activists from different conflict areas around the world told their story and explained why they decided to dedicate themselves to peace building. But not only they told their story. Also the audience were invited to volunteer as a ‘book’, so that other people could ‘borrow’ them for a while and hear their story.
As an introduction to this event three speakers shortly told the audience what had made them decide to commit themselves to peacebuilding. The first speaker, Lisanne spoke about her research in Indonesia about the role of religion in a peacebuilding process. She discovered that the women of the project who lived very segregated along religious lines, were very brave to overcome these segregated boundaries by visiting each other, together cleaned religious buildings, and organise activities to show the neighbourhood. With this they showed that they could live together as Muslims and Christians. The second speaker was Bedel, a kurd, born in Turkey but living in the Netherlands since a young age. He told a story about how he sees that Kurds and Turks in the Netherlands regularly don’t talks about sensitive issues and often have a hostile attitude towards each other. His committed himself to strengthen the relationship among both communities. The third speaker was Bashi, originally from DR Congo. He shared a very personal story about his activism in Congo and why he had to flee to the Netherlands. Also, he told the audience that he was very happy to be able to tell his story since he don’t often has the opportunity to talk about this.
To bring the audience in the mood to also share their story, they were asked to think about a moment in their life where the felt they were contributing to a better world. What where the doing, and for whom? How did they feel about it? People could write a title for their story on a piece of paper and form groups of people who were interested in this particular book. In two rounds everybody got the opportunity to listen, to talk and to ask questions. In the wrap-up of the event we ask the audience to give a small reaction on the evening, and everybody was very positive. They realised that everybody has a story to tell, and some people told us they were surprised by how easy it was to trust strangers to tell a very personal story.