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portuguese-lab

The following is a combination of testimonials from the Portuguese Storytelling Workshop, a workshop held in Spring 2021 to support the Portuguese-speaking community in Greater Victoria and beyond. The workshop encouraged participants to share their stories and experiences to connect as newcomers in a new country navigating a global pandemic.

“The pandemic has been challenging and relentless, but it forced me to get new skills. ‘Put your storytelling workshop online, Deb. Welcome Zoom and a whole new world of people.’ Here Magazine asked me to facilitate a Flame Storytelling class for new Canadians with the support of The Greater Victoria Public Library and The Belfry Theatre. Last November, I spent an online weekend with vibrant humans who have lived extraordinary experiences. They wove their lives into marvelous stories. Daniela Pinto beamed through that first online class and wanted more. So, this spring Daniela gathered her Brazilian community into a 6-week workshop. She wanted to offer her Brazilian friends in Victoria and beyond a way to connect, share, and heal in their mother tongue. It was an experiment…” (Deb W.)

“I had no second thoughts about registering for the workshop the moment I read about it. Still, though I didn’t know what to expect. However, it surprised me in a very positive tone. Deb had an inspiring way to make us realize how many stories each of us could share, and it was beautiful to hear various stories being unveiled by a powerful storytelling methodology. The workshop felt like a safe space. Mostly, it was empowering to listen to each other narrate moments in English, Portuguese, and especially those sentences where we’d all giggle while wondering together how to best convey a feeling in a language other than the one we were speaking at the time we experienced it.” (Jess N.)

The workshop felt like a safe space. Mostly, it was empowering to listen to each other narrate moments in English, Portuguese, and especially those sentences where we’d all giggle while wondering together how to best convey a feeling in a language other than the one we were speaking at the time we experienced it.

—Jess N.

“The Storytelling Workshop by our dear Deborah Williams was one of the most fantastic experiences I’ve ever had and the best online workshop I’ve attended! All the exercises we’ve done helped us in the process of remembering the most important details of our true stories and constructing them in a way we can catch the attention of our audience. It was also a wonderful “therapy” for most of us. In my case, telling things that have happened to me which I had never told others before made me feel the relief of finally talking about it and even seeing it differently now, like one more of life’s jokes. Another great point of the workshop was the opportunity to practice our ESL skills and to have Deb going over our stories, always nice and friendly, encouraging us and suggesting the best way of writing them. Also, meeting other storytellers and interacting with them, hearing their true stories had a profound psychological effect in all of us.” (Femi Heqet Mohana)

It was truly wonderful to meet other Portuguese-speaking individuals in the Victoria area and to listen to all their wonderful and touching stories! It was heartwarming to learn that I am not alone in my experiences as an immigrant. I could relate to so many of the stories shared during our sessions, and it was just great connecting with all the participants in this way.” —Sara E.

“They were exceptionally patient as I attempted to speak slowly in English. That’s not one of my skills so Daniela and then the whole class translated for the Portuguese speakers who didn’t understand my way-too-fast-English. Then they translated back to me.” (Deb W.)

It was surreal! At the beginning, I was a little lost and embarrassed, I didn’t know what to expect… but then everything was flowing and I found it an amazing experience. Going back in time and telling the stories from another perspective was a transformative process for me.” —Rafaela B.

“We communicated and amazing stories emerged. So much laughing and crying. So much familiar and new. One participant, Fernanda, even stayed up late in Rio to take the class! Zoom means everyone could join! But not everyone was from Brazil either; other Portuguese speakers joined with stories from Portugal, Angola, and beyond.” (Deb W.)

“Even attending from Brazil and watching it at late hours, I waited anxiously and happily for the meetings and exchanges. The storytelling workshop for me was moments of pleasure and relaxation. I was able to experience the stories told in a very collective and special way, in addition to sharing my own stories and being able to make people laugh. It was a wonderful experience, which gave me good memories, laughs, and especially because I ended up gaining a great friend, a link that was formed through the stories we shared.” (Nanda V.)

“This kind of storytelling circle is essential to the building of a new identity in a new land. It builds on the past, present, and future experiences created when we move from one culture to another. I came out of Ciranda’s storytelling workshop with a new friend, Nanda (in Florianopolis), and I found we have many interests in common and we meet regularly to share ideas. I have invited her to bring her family here to Sooke to see bears one day! I extend that invitation to anyone who would enjoy the experience which is happening right now!” (Veronica D.)

This kind of storytelling circle is essential to the building of new identity in a new land. It builds on the past, present, and future experiences created when we move from one culture to another. —Veronica D.

We want to thank everyone who made that class so moving and satisfying. A number of those brave and entertaining participants are going to share their stories at The Flame, live on The Belfry Theatre Stage, on October 4, 2021, at 7 pm. Please join us if you can! Learn more about it here.

A special thanks to Here Magazine, the Greater Victoria Public Library, the Belfry Theatre, and the Ciranda team for making this storytelling workshop a reality for all of us.

We hope to hear your true stories and lived emotions in one of our future workshops.

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