From Listeners to Storytellers: Empowering Students Through Narratives

POSTED: January 18, 2024Category: Showcased AssociateBY: digitial

Since the dawn of time, people have relied on stories to interpret the world around them. Stories have the remarkable ability to captivate our hearts and minds, leading us to fall in love with causes and shaping our attitudes. But what if there was something even better than listening to a story? It’s the art of learning to tell a story, an experience that can change your life and the lives of others.

Personal Transformations Through Storytelling

Eight years ago, I left the world of PR to explore the stories of lesser-known heroes across the Philippines. There, I met inspiring individuals ranging from Benjie, a former street child turned community leader, to Fabien, a French university student at the time who founded a purpose-driven toy business, on a farm! These encounters transformed my worldview, inspiring me to write a book and delve into social enterprise.

Tom, interacting with volunteers of the Philippine NGO, Gawad Kalinga. Extract from the Interactive Adventure

From that point on, MAD has been dedicated to harnessing the power of storytelling to inspire students to create change. However, we recently identified a missing piece in our mission. While our ‘interactive adventures’ introduced young people to new ideas and role models, we wanted students to become storytellers themselves. Our vision is for students to multiply stories, sharing global issues from diverse perspectives all around the world.

Introducing Docathon: A Storytelling Revolution

 To bridge this gap, we created Docathon, a filmmaking competition designed for students. In Docathon, young filmmakers select a pressing global concern related to a chosen theme that aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They delve into the topic by collaborating with a local organisation or NGO addressing the same issue in their community. Based on this organisation’s work, students create short educational documentaries. Moreover, to ensure students are well-equipped for this storytelling journey, we provide them with an online course, teaching them how to craft powerful and impactful stories.

A sneak peek from a module of our Docathon course for schools.

The process doesn’t end with filmmaking. Students also organise screening events within their schools, making their stories accessible to a wider audience. Leading entries have the opportunity to participate in Interschool Docathons, held online, showcasing their work in an “Oscar’s style” Film Event. The winning films not only receive recognition but also a cash prize, a portion of which is donated to the NGO or social enterprise featured in their film. Additionally, the MAD team in London transforms the winning stories into interactive adventures, ensuring that these tales continue to inspire and educate a global audience.

Empowering Students Through Storytelling

“Why is storytelling so beneficial for students? It offers a wealth of advantages:

  • Critical Skills: Crafting narratives hones communication skills, vital in academics and
  • Creativity: Stories foster creativity, encouraging out-of-the-box
  • Empathy: Students develop empathy by immersing themselves in characters’
  • Passion for Learning: Storytelling connects abstract concepts to real life, making education
  • Confidence: Sharing stories boosts confidence and communication skills, applicable in various life “

A Personal Testimony

Recently, we partnered with Doc-in-a-Day, a London-based filmmaking competition. The theme, “purpose,” was drawn from a hat by one of the participants and – drawn in by the enthusiasm of the other eight teams – I unexpectedly found myself creating a documentary myself, ‘on the fly.’ It was a thrilling experience, reaching out to people at the last minute, and asking them to share their stories in our documentary. While our movie didn’t win any awards, the opportunity itself got me out of my comfort zone, taught me valuable skills, and rekindled my passion for storytelling.

Snaps of what went down at the Doc-in-a-day screening, sponsored by MAD Courses, in London

In summary, storytelling is a transformative tool with the potential to inspire change. Docathon’s mission is to empower students to become storytellers, connecting them to learning, people, and positive change. Storytelling equips students with the confidence, empathy, and communication skills needed for success in academics and life. Let’s continue sharing and creating stories that shape a better world.

If you’d like to participate in the upcoming Docathon and/or organise a film festival in your school, get in touch with our team at If you would like to sponsor a Docathon, please contact

MAD Courses is an AISA Associate Member, and this article is a marketing opportunity offered to all Associate Members. AISA supports and endorses all its Associate Members, and this marketing communication does not serve to recommend one above another. To see all our Associate Members, please click here.

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