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“The Power of Stories” by Chantel Bongiovanni

There is an unprecedented power in the telling of stories, not just for the listener, but for the teller as well. We tell stories constantly: to others, to ourselves. Our stories change as we change. We as humans can and must tell stories in order to make ourselves understood by others. We yearn to be understood, to make sense of our world and our experiences through time – the only way we can do this is through telling stories.

I come from an Applied Linguistics background, specialising in Narrative Analysis. Basically, it means that I study the words people use in the stories they tell. I study why out of all the ways someone could tell a particular story about a particular time and experience in their life, that they chose particular words and particular events in order to tell their story.

I am intensely interested in stories. I write them, I tell them, I ask people for their stories whenever I can. I admire the power they have in moving others and the way that they help us understand ourselves and our place in the world. Most importantly, I admire how stories can help us understand someone who is different from us; someone we might not have met and might not feel like we can empathise with. A well-told story can open up our minds to new possibilities and new ways of thinking about the world around us.

I was drawn to this book project because I believe in the power of stories to bring change for all manner of people. In a world where the voices of people with disability are often less heard and less represented, opportunities to give voice to stories we might not otherwise hear are powerful. These types of stories can help people going through dramatic life changes, they can help communities adjust, and they can help broader society and culture understand life through the lens of disability better.

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