Can you build a career as a storyteller?
Kiran Singh Sirah thinks so. In fact, his LinkedIn profile reads: "Storytelling not only enriches lives, it can change the world".
KIRAN is a Folklorist, Artist, Peacebuilder, Storyteller, and Past President of the International Storytelling Center (ISC), an educational and cultural institution dedicated to enriching the lives of people around the world through storytelling. In over two decades, Kiran has developed a number of award-winning arts, cultural and human rights in numerous countries. He is also a Rotary Peace Fellow.
Kiran is a brilliant changemaker who believes that everyone shares the responsibility of promoting cultural diversity. During the podcast, he shared many powerful examples about his collaborations with peace-building organizations, social justice movements, and even the police. Kiran also discussed how important stories and sense making are to building bridges and his key tips for building a career of impact including the need for creativity and humility.
Key takeaways from the episode:
1. Communities as Agents of Change: Kiran emphasizes the power of communities in driving social change. By putting communities at the center of our work, we can often break down barriers, nurture diversity, and create a more inclusive society.
2. Unusual Allies: Kiran challenges us to think beyond traditional partnerships and engage with unlikely allies. By collaborating with peacebuilding organizations, social justice movements, and even the police, we can create innovative solutions to complex issues.
3. Ethical Engagement: The ethics of storytelling are paramount. Kiran emphasizes the significance of respecting and valuing local traditions, knowledge, and wisdom. It is crucial to amplify local voices rather than imposing our own narrative.
KIRAN SINGH SIRAH is a Folklorist, Artist, Peacebuilder, Storyteller, and Past President of the International Storytelling Center (ISC), an educational and cultural institution dedicated to enriching the lives of people around the world through storytelling. In over two decades Kiran has developed a number of award-winning arts, cultural and human rights in numerous countries.
These programs have received recognition from UNESCO, UK Authority in Education, and the European Commission. He has spoken at the Library of Congress, The Kennedy Center, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the US State Department, the US Department of Defense’s force directorate, and led peace trainings for US commanders at Fort Benning military base in Georgia. As well as collaborations with Yo Yo Ma and Dolly Parton, helping to elevate marginalized Appalachian traditions. He is widely recognized for advancing storytelling as a tool for building social empathy and intercultural understanding. In 2015, he was invited to the White House in support of storytelling efforts for national grassroots peace building efforts. An advisory member to UNESCO Scotland and a Rotary Peace Fellow, he has developed articles, talks and advises on interdisciplinary narrative approaches to relationship building in communities around the globe.
In 2017, he was awarded the “Champion of Peace” recognition at the Rotary International ceremony at the United Nations Peace Week in Geneva, and recently nominated for a prestigious national Martin Luther King Jr. human rights award for his work in advancing social justice through storytelling and education.
Kiran believes that storytelling is not just a force for social change; it is social change itself. It helps people connect, engenders new understanding, and inspires people to act for positive change in their communities and in society at large. He emphasizes his interest in “the power of human creativity, arts, storytelling and social justice, and the notion of a truly global multicultural society.”
As a prolific speaker and advisor, his current work promotes the power of storytelling as a democratic art and a gift of hope for people in societies that feel increasingly divided, isolated or burnt out. He has a talent for bringing different kinds of people together to connect and achieve a common goal. Working at the cutting edge of folk art preservation, social justice and community building, his big ideas are matched by his passion and dedication to the hard work of realizing them one small step at a time.
Check out previous Seasons & Episodes of our Award-Winning Social Change Career Podcast.
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