Sharing Stories to Create Community: Narrative 4 Comes to Puerto Viejo

On Monday, November 21, 2016 a group of residents of south Caribbean Costa Rica will spend an afternoon sharing stories with students from the Media School at Indiana University in a "story exchange" facilitated by the Rich Coast project and following the innovative, empathy-building methodology developed by Narrative 4.

Watch "What is Empathy" by Narrative 4 to see what the Story Exchange is all about

These students will spend the remainder of the week developing audio stories with a team of local producers, which will be distributed as podcasts through the South Caribe Roots Archive in 2017. The story exchange is an opportunity to introduce volunteers from the IU Media School to a diverse sample of Caribe Sur residents and share insights about the places we call home and how those places influence who we become.

The activity is free and will be conducted in English. There are a limited number of spaces available for local participants.  Please let us know if you'd like to participate.


Narrative 4 fosters empathy by breaking down barriers and shattering stereotypes through the exchange of stories across the world. Led by globally influential artists, educators, students and community advocates, N4 is developing the next generation of empathetic leaders and citizens.

Originally founded by over 100 writers from around the world, including Michael Ondaatje, Gabriel Byrne, Ian McEwan, Sting, Chimamanda Adichie, Michael Cunningham, Edna O’Brien, Tea Obreht, Amy Bloom, Roddy Doyle, Rawi Hage, Etgar Keret, Monique Truong, Tiphanie Yanique, Adam Haslett, Rabih Alameddine, Sasha Hemon, and Joe Henry, the organization is based on the simple idea that by knowing the story of another, we are able to better understand each other. When listening to stories, we suspend argument, engage our emotions, and, walking in the shoes of another, experience compassion.


The core methodology behind Narrative 4 is the story exchange, an exercise in which individuals are randomly paired off and each shares a story that in some way defines him or her. Afterwards, each is responsible for telling the other’s story, taking on the persona of his or her partner and telling the story in the first person.

Narrative 4 develops empathetic citizens of the 21st Century through story exchanges that (1) get participants to take another’s perspective and step “outside” of themselves, as that is the key to understanding the hopes, fears, experiences, beliefs, and worldviews of others; (2) afford the opportunity to recognize emotion in others; (3) ask individuals to refrain from judgment and (4) to FEEL with people.  N4 then helps turn empathy into action…

By creating safe spaces in which to conduct story exchanges throughout America’s schools, communities, and the globe, N4 promotes radical empathy on a mass scale.  The story exchanges affect the fundamental nature of each and every person and it is this collective and “empathic flowering” that encourages the type of fearless hope that drives individual and social consciousness, which then fosters change.