World Economic Forum

THE NEW NARRATIVES LAB​

TESTIMONIES FROM THE FELLOWS

Thando Hopa

The fellowship was an intimately layered experience for me. It opened up a path of varying perspectives on the personal, cultural, economic and political composition of narratives.  The curriculum provided an interdisciplinary approach to leadership which made me deeply interrogate, explore and expand on my work that merges mediums of representation in media with cultural and structural activism.
 
Having Mam Angelique Kidjo, who is a visionary, as my assigned mentor, further textured my perspective and  propelled me into developing projects that broadened the horizons of my work.  
 
The investment of friendship, mutual assistance in problem solving techniques and actively relying on each other's knowledge base with my fellowship sisters had enormous experiential value for me as an artist and activist.
 
As a woman who carries intersectional political experiences – I found the fellowship to enlarge my approach towards my means and methods of communication, to widen my creative avenues and to explore institutional instruments that could further build towards an inclusive cultural economy. 
 
The management tier of the narratives lab, provided a reference of empathetic and consultative leadership. Our sessions with them, as well as several experts and leaders harnessed a safe space for engagement, extracted the imaginative and dynamic potential of artistic work and curated discussions that broadened tools of emotional resilience, that I found to be necessary in maintaining the emotional and intellectual bandwidth required for sustainable and impactful leadership. 

Rena Effendi

The experience of the New Narratives Lab fellowship for me was very inspirational. As a storyteller who observes and documents the human condition, often photographing people in vulnerable situations, I am instinctively preoccupied with the concept of representation.

During our sessions I formed a close bond with both our mentors and co-fellows Thando and Wanuri. Our conversations were intimate, thought provoking and energizing. This fellowship created a space, where the participants did not only show support, but offered a very nuanced perspective, which sharpened my senses, making me more sensitive as a journalist and as a person assuming a leadership role of telling a human story to the public.

With the help of this fellowship and the deep meaningful interaction it brought, I felt comfortable enough to share my own vulnerabilities and reflect on them. As a result, I’ve grown emotionally and intellectually and become a more confident communicator, a better storyteller with a more refined and sensitive gaze. 

Wanuri Kahiu

Being part of the inaugural class of the New Narratives Lab could not have come at a better nor a stranger time. If ever there was a need to deepen an understanding of artistic leadership, it is now, in the face of global fear, uncertainty and isolation.

Over the past year, through conversations with our mentors, WEF colleagues, the narrative lab classmates and through our masterclasses, I have an enriched understanding of effective, compelling communication -- in both public and private spheres, created a roadmap for my career and personal goals, cemented my confidence in spaces that have historically excluded women of colour and formed a lattice of cherished friends and associates to walk this curious journey of artistry. Above all, we, the New Narrative honorees, have been embraced into the WEF cultural family as equal contributors to a new era. One that needs open and honest imagination as much as pioneering business ventures, and one that embraces community as much as commerce.

New Narratives affirms that we are forerunners into an unknown world, and has delivered core skills that allow us to contribute to our future as emotionally grounded and daringly creative leaders.

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