2018 Public Narrative Workshop: Using Public Narrative to Build Support for Health Equity

Equity Initiative Fellows have compelling stories to tell and a strong desire to mobilize others to act in support of equity causes. A Public Narrative Training program, held December 20-22 in Bangkok, was designed to help them to harness the power of storytelling to advance their health equity goals. The training was led by Sandy Hoa Dang, executive director of the Vietnam Education Foundation, who is a social entrepreneur, leadership trainer, and storyteller.

In the opening sessions, Ms. Dang explained that storytelling helps us learn to make choices and construct our identities – as individuals, as communities, and as nations. Facts and figures are important, but sharing a personal perspective can also garner interest and catalyze action. Through the art of public narrative, leaders can use well-crafted stories to engage the hearts and minds of community members and mobilize them to act on behalf of shared values.

Leaders need a motivating vision for the change that want to catalyze, but that vision can gain greater power and urgency when it is linked to a 3-part story: the Story of Self (why you are called to serve), the Story of Us (why our community is called to act), and the Story of Now (why action is urgently needed). Fellows worked in small groups on integrating their own stories with the public narrative framework, shared their stories with the full group, and offered each other helpful critiques.

The Public Narrative Training is an example of how the Equity Initiative engages the EI Fellows beyond the induction year and supports their professional development. This type of programming also contributes to EI community building, as it facilitates Fellows’ connections across cohorts and promotes discussions on shared interests. This session attracted 19 Fellows, with representatives from three cohorts and nine countries in attendance.