Transforming Roma Narratives:
Advocacy Through Storytelling

In 2014, Open Society Foundations partnered with Academy Award® nominated filmmaker and Co-Founder of Narativ, Murray Nossel, M.S.W., Ph.D., to bring forth the rich and important narratives of the European Roma population through a storytelling initiative. For the Roma to tell their own history and experiences would serve as a means to combat the pervasive, longstanding discrimination against them.  

On June 4, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. in the Weinstein Auditorium on the Smith College Campus, Nossel and Nesime Salioska, a Roma rights advocate from Macedonia, will discuss their use of storytelling as a means to empower Roma communities in Europe, with a particular focus on health-care provision. Participants will be introduced to Narativ’s listening and storytelling method and will be encouraged to generate ideas for applications of the method in their own communities.

Nossel first developed his storytelling method in 1994 through a social service program for people diagnosed with AIDS. In the two decades since, he has worked in partnerships with the WHO and many U.S. foundations to bring his method to more than 50 countries for the purpose of healing and community empowerment. Nossel co-wrote a play with Narativ Co-Founder Paul Browde, “Two Men Talking,” using this method with running performances in NYC and London. Nossel’s film, “Why Can’t We Be a Family Again?” was nominated for a 2002 Academy Award®. Nossel is currently spearheading the World Mother Storytelling Project.

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Murray Nossel, Co-Founder and Director, Narativ

Murray Nossel, M.S.W., Ph.D., developed his listening and storytelling method at the height of the AIDS epidemic in New York City, and the stories it produced formed the basis of a campaign that halted defunding of research, saving countless lives. Since then, as co-founder, and director of Narativ, Nossel has applied his methodology in advocacy work across Europe, Africa, and the United States. In particular, his work with Open Society Foundations and the Roma Initiative in Healthcare demonstrates the transformation possible with long-term practice and implementation of stories and storytelling principles in advocacy. Nossel has also applied his listening and storytelling methodology in the theater and documentary filmmaking. "Two Men Talking," a performance of his listening and storytelling method developed with Dr. Paul Browde, has been performed in the West End of London and Off-Broadway in New York City. His film, “Why Can’t We Be a Family Again?”, about African American brothers in Brooklyn struggling to reunite with their mother, a recovering drug addict, was nominated for a 2002 Academy Award®. Nossel is the founder and director of the World Mother Storytelling Project.

Nesime Salioska, Roma Rights Advocate

Nesime Salioska is a graduate of the Business Academy, and is a founder and executive director of the association ROMA S.O.S. in Prilep, Macedonia. She has worked in a fellowship position and as an observer on multiple political and social organizations that seek to improve women’s rights in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, including as policy fellow in Macedonia, Roma Women's Fellowship of the Network's Women Program of OSI and CEU-Center for Policy Studies; fellowship on the position of Roma women in the labor-market in SEE; local coordinator for Prilep on the project “CEDAW and Roma women in Macedonia,” initially coordinated by Roma Center of Skopje, financially supported by Roma Participation Program – Budapest and UNIFEM. As well she speaks at relevant conferences, such as the third thematic session "Inequalities, social inclusion and rights", on the occasion of 25 years of the International conference on population and dynamics, organized by UNFPA and UNECE in Geneva, Palace of Nations. Advocating for the rights of women, particularly Roma women, is a life-long cause to which she is deeply dedicated.

Narativ Advocacy Programs

For the past 25 years, Narativ has had successful partnerships with philanthropies, foundations, non-governmental and community organizations to identify impactful, on-the-ground stories for use in advocacy. Working with individuals and communities, Narativ empowers marginalized populations to own their stories—to seize their narrative—and works with stakeholders to connect these personal stories to policy goals. Relevant personal stories act as the kindling for social transformation. Narativ has implemented its listening and storytelling method in advocacy programs of organizations such as the Open Society Foundations, UNICEF, the International Transport Workers' Federation, and many more around the world. For more on Narativ's work in advocacy:

Accessibility Accommodations

Weinstein Auditorium is wheelchair accessible. For other disability accommodations or sign language interpreters, please contact the Office of the Dean at 413-585-7950 or email, at least two weeks in advance of the lecture.

Continuing Education Credits (CEs)

Lectures also provide one and one-half (1.5) Continuing Education Credits (CEs). The cost to register for CEs will be $15 per lecture. Those who wish to earn CEs should arrive 15 minutes ahead of the lecture to register. To receive a CE certificate, you must attend the entirety of the lecture. Partial credit will not be awarded to those who attend only a portion of the presentation. Participants must sign in and out of the session and complete an evaluation. Therefore, a late arrival or an early departure of greater than ten minutes constitutes not attending the lecture in its entirety. Payment will be collected at registration. Payment must be made by check or money order ONLY.