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The AAS (Aquatic Agriculture System) program final event for the 2013 was Knowledge Fair which was convened in Battambang province, Northwest of Cambodia. The Workshop aimed at bringing knowledge and experience for sharing and create new learning.

The workshop held for three days, the first two days were on exposure visit to a community after they have started to take steps of implementing community action plan, conduct overall After Action Review (AAR) of the whole process of Community Visioning, in particular ‘reflecting on how Community Life Competence Process’ (CLCP) via SALT could be applied and how helpful the tool is. Story Telling was a one day event which aimed to bring the workshop participants to tell story of change after applying CLCP to their life and work. The third day was about communicating AAS strategic Framework to wider audiences and Knowledge Sharing from presentation of Salaphum (a type of action research) and preliminary results of water management study by Tonle Sap Authority.

What I want to share here is the power of “Story Telling”. I see it as a powerful tool to have the workshop participants especially those who are community level to share their stories and identified lesson learnt. The story to be shared has to be precise, clear, specific and concrete. In order to make the story telling more effective, the group of participants were divided into small group of 3 and each person will have to take turn to tell their own stories while listeners have to listen careful and provide feedback to the stories which could either be critical comments or suggestions or questions for clarification. Everyone has the same period of time to share the story. In the first round, the time for story telling is 5 minutes and 7 minutes for feedback. In the second round the story telling was 4 minutes and the feed back is 6 minutes, while the third round the story telling is only 2 minutes and the feedback time is only 5 minutes. In each round participants have to change to new group. Playing a game of ‘a bird in a cage’ was quite helpful for participants to find new group with completely new members.

In the first round, participants complained that they do not have enough time for story telling. They have a lot to tell while the time allowed only 5 minutes. But after the third round, they were surprised how they stories could be condensed and make it only in two minutes. They complained the same on time for feedback. I saw this process as good because generally in the first time, story teller would want to share every single thing they have known about, but given time constraint they have to reduce some detail of the story and make it more specific and concrete. They enjoyed the sharing and had fun along the way. This was surprising to me as well. While the detail of the story was reduced, they were still able to tell concrete facts especially the reason of why ‘change had happened’ the way it is.


First Round of Story Telling


Second Round of Story Telling

After the third round finished, participants were asked to write down their own story on a table and identified lesson learns and title to their story. This is a challenge for our participants especially those who are from community facilitators. The lesson learns is sometimes confused with factual situation in the story. The workshop facilitators have to stay in each of the small group and help them to identify lesson learns and story title.


Compiling Lesson Learned and Story Title

Although the process was a bit challenging, everyone was satisfied with their end results whereby they identified proper lesson learns (though not perfect) and ‘workable’ story title.  I am glad with this result. Although the day has a lot of activities required facilitation from the workshop facilitators, I found it exciting and the best time to learn. I have learned a lot from the participants. They are very good story tellers however they do not know very well on how to put their stories into writing and drawing a comprehensive lesson learns from individual story. I still find the story telling day was a powerful tool to share and learn from individual story of change.

All of the lesson learns will be compiled and established as “common principle for action”. Those lessons were considered as ‘knowledge Assets’ which is a treasure and very important to individual life. The story tellers were required to write down their name and contact address on their identified lesson learns for future contact and sharing. There is a total of 45 stories were shared. The next issue is how the stories could be compiled and share with the AAS hub across the countries and region. The lesson learns drawing from individual stories are worth sharing across the hub.


Story Telling-Lesson Learned sharing

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Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on January 29, 2014 at 10:35am

Here is a blog 'What's so special about storytelling for social change'

Comment by Laurel on January 26, 2014 at 10:38pm

Hi Channy A wonderful example of story telling in action. It is a powerful tool to bring forth the human experience and clearly ackolwedge the knowledge and expertise of the teller. Loved the techniques which I am adding to my "story telling toolkit"


Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on January 9, 2014 at 5:45pm

Hi Channy,

Like Nathalie I too would like to learn more about the bird in a cage process. And a big thank you for posting the blog. This is a beautiful example of how one can learn about a process from others rather one 'expert' telling the participants how to compile stories.

Comment by HAK Sochanny on January 8, 2014 at 9:34am

Dear all to whom I could  not address the names properly, thank you very much for your kind words and encouragement. I am glad that I could share something that is of beneficial to the group. I will keep sharing more when time allows. I thank to Nathalie for commenting on the process. I will see how we can adapt in the next knowledge fair in the 3rd or 4th quarter of 2014. Your suggestions are warmly welcome!

Comment by HAK Sochanny on January 8, 2014 at 9:32am

Dear Usa Duongsaa, thank you very much for your kind words and encouragement and please convey my deep and sincere thank to Dusit for providing strong and tireless supports to our WorldFish Cambodia team especially I myself who have learned a lot from the discussion with him. I so much enjoyed working with him and I wish to have a chance to learn and work more with him. We all enjoyed working together. To be honest, I am very much inspired by his experience in working at community and also as a top level academic professor at university.

Comment by Usa Duongsaa on January 3, 2014 at 8:43pm

Hi Channy, Dusit asks me to relay this message to you :-)

"Thank you very much Channy for writing this blog to share the Cambodian experience with other friends around the world.  You gave a vivid and clear description of all the steps we took during the knowledge fair as well as the outcomes.  I think the participants were very much inspired by what they witnessed during the SALT visits as well as by the learning and sharing that took place during story-telling.   I'd like to say also that I very much enjoyed working with the AAS team, the communities, and the partner NGOs.

Comment by Nathalie Legros on January 1, 2014 at 9:04pm

dear Channy, thank you for this inspiring description! I love story telling and especially I find this idea of reducing the time of the different rounds really interesting; would you tell a little more about the 'bird in a cage' process? I also practice the story telling in groups of 3, which we call triads, and find powerful and nearly magic this setting: with 1 person telling the story, 1 person focused on listening and asking clarification questions, and 1 person 'holding the space' and giving feedback at the end… thanks again for having taken the time to share, and please, continue!

Comment by Usa Duongsaa on January 1, 2014 at 11:40am

Great blog, Channy!  I love the way you wrote up this experience to share with us here, with lots of details on both process and outcomes, and with very nice photos.  I must admit that I asked Dusit when he came back how the story-telling session had been like in Battambang, but your blog gives me a much clearer picture of the event :-)  I've never met anyone of you but your blog shows me that Dusit is right as he tells me over and over that the community facilitators and WF staff and partner NGOs in Cambodia have great potentials and are a great team to work/learn/share with!  Please keep up the good work and keep sharing with us.

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