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‘Trainline Only for Emergencies’ by Andriana Kalyva

It was a one-of-a-kind experience, much like when you turn a familiar corner and suddenly realize you’ve stepped into a brilliant new discovery. I don’t quite remember the moment I heard about the workshop, but the moment I decided to join will forever be with me, because in retrospect I realize how a tiny decision can produce many great things and even change one’s outlook on life.

I was just beginning to work on my master’s thesis and was feeling seriously daunted by it. I needed an escape, something creative to occupy my mind – being a creative person I felt sort of suffocating under the pressure of studying. And I have a bit of social anxiety, so it took a lot of overthinking about various details until I finally thought “let’s just apply”. I hadn’t clearly realized what the workshop would be at the time, but now, after having completed it and after some months have passed and the impression has sunk in, I can say it was a brilliant idea. In short, each participant had to create a video telling a story of their own; in fact, what I saw in it was an opportunity to express thoughts that had been tinkling my mind for a while.

This digital story was created as part of a Digital Storytelling Workshop run through the ‘Connecting through Voice’ project at Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2022.

First and foremost, I was challenged to share my writing with practically strangers. Anyone who has ever written a single line can understand how scary this is, but also how essential for the development of a writer. I was able to overcome the fear of listening to people’s commentary and it was truly liberating. Besides this, storytelling in this workshop took a video form; this was new to me, as I had never really tried transforming my writing into video. I learnt how to video edit, which made me feel really proud as it was a skill I had been aching to learn for a long time. Previous attempts had me disappointed, because it’s definitely not something easy to learn, it takes persistence. What the workshop gave me was a motive to persist with my efforts: I wanted to complete and present a video, so I had to work on it intently.

However, the most precious outcome of it all was the fact that hearing the other participants’ stories, I heard my own story – that is, different stories expressing the same core worry as mine, the same kind of thing that was bothering us all silently. It was a liberating experience to learn that I hadn’t been alone in that struggle, in other words it was an experience that really achieved connection between us participants. Through our stories, I felt connected to people I hadn’t met before, or had met but didn’t know well enough.

In the present days dawning on us, I often feel this need for connection in me and in the people around me, accompanied, however, by fear. Connecting Through Voices could be an enlightening experience in that sense, helping us approach that human connection, overcoming fear.