Courtney Spence on How Curiosity and Listening Inform Successful Storytelling

In Chapter 6 of 15 of her 2010 Capture Your Flag interview, non-profit executive and Students of the World founder Courtney Spence answers "What have you learned about successful story telling through your nonprofit efforts?" Spence shares how listening and curiosity enable more successful storytelling. Spence has learned this over time creating her non-profit, Students of the World, that sends student documentary filmmakers abroad to work with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the communities they serve across the globe. She highlights how both curiosity and listening provide individuals the space and security to open up and share their story.


Erik Michielsen: What have you learned about successful story telling through your nonprofit efforts?

Courtney Spence: I think the most important aspect to successful story telling comes from an honest and sincere sense of curiosity and from listening. I think a lot of times you read in books and you read articles and you go into a situation and you think you know the issue or you know the organization but we really tell our students to arm yourself with this knowledge but once you get to the ground and you meet the individuals that are dealing and facing these battles everyday, throw everything that you thought out the window and spend some time to just get to know the person, get to know where they live, get to know their families, really before you try and tell their story for them let them tell their own story and I think that that is hard to do in this day and age but I also think that when you find yourselves in these opportunities, particularly with the right individuals, they will open up so that you will be struck with the stories that come from them.