Tell me your story
About the Project
“Tell me your story” is a project of the Goethe-Institut Istanbul with narrative, literary and audio-visual elements. With story-telling techniques, with photography and in interviews, young Syrian refugees tell stories of their time before, during and after the escape from Syria to Turkey. These stories often show evidence of an absurd reality of life, between fragile normality and banal brutality. The stories and testimonies will feature permanently on the website of the Goethe-Institut Turkey. The Goethe-Institut Ankara will also host an exhibition from December 5th to December 30th, as well as a conference on December 6th.
The Department of Information and Library at the Goethe-Institut Istanbul created the project in July 2016. At that date, Syrian refugees in Turkey already numbered over 2.7 million, according to UNHCR. That is also the context in which the motivation of the project should be viewed: with the number of refugees, which has been growing especially since 2013, the negative attitude and xenophobia of the local population has been increasing not only in Europe, but also in Turkey.
For the Syrian refugees who live outside of the refugee camps in Turkish cities, it is practically impossible to live a normal life, unencumbered by fear, intimidation and discrimination. The importance of a project like “Tell me your story,” which acts as a mediator between refugees and the host society and creates understanding and compassion instead of crude rejection, is obvious. The project documents the ordeals that children and young adults undergo during wartime, and continue to suffer, even when the escape from the warzone has been successful. With this project, the refugees, forced out of the public sphere in Turkey, are to be taken one step back into society.
“Tell me your story” was initiated in September 2016 with sixteen Syrian children and young adults living in the border town of Mardin. Professional trainers taught the young people the know-how and skills to narrate and document their stories in words and pictures. The outcomes of the workshops were interviews with anecdotes and recollections of the teens, as well as photographs and short texts, which, in combination, afforded a glimpse of their emotional and mental world.
On our website, we portray the young people with their photographs and recollections through interviews and texts.