The e-learning Space

Using Stories to build compassion, empathy and understanding

Digital storytelling is an effective way to teach empathy (Burnett, 2016). Burnett’s (2016) research shows how images and sound work together to allow students to more fully realize another person’s immigration experience.

A starting point may be to try to build some connections between the native Nauru people and the refugee families. A joint understanding and empathy may help to ease the tensions between the two groups. Using the Teachers without Borders Bridges to Understanding curriculum as a guide, students from the two different cultural groups (the refugee students and the Nauruan students) could make a video which helps to explain their culture. Focal questions/investigations students could address include:

  • Ask a parent or older relative to describe a tradition which is important to your family. Perhaps they could recount a particularly happy moment they remember where this event was celebrated.
  • Include on your video your friends enjoying a game which you like to play.
  • Talk about things that you enjoy to do.
  • Discuss your goals, hopes and dreams for the future.
  • What do you think would bring you happiness?
  • Do you enjoy school?
  • What changes would make school a more enjoyable place for you to attend?


Resources Needed

iPhone or another digital device which is able to record sound and images.

Connection to projector or somewhere the movies can be enlarged

Willing participants

Sharing the Stories

After the students have recorded their stories it is important that significance is placed on sharing and viewing the movies. The teachers and students could write invitations to their family and effort could be placed into making the event special. Perhaps popcorn and drinks could be shared during the evening. Opportunities for the students and families to mingle afterwards might also open the dialogue between the groups.