Visual Storytelling Training


Written by Albanoi Retkoceri from Kosovo

May 2024

Ever since I started my work as a Communication Volunteer at the International Secretariat, I’ve been focusing a lot on making videos and using videos to promote volunteering. I was having a lot of fun, and I liked a lot of my earlier videos. But something just didn’t click with the last video. I would change the intro, delete certain parts, add a different song, rearrange everything and I still didn’t like it. I felt that I needed some inspiration, to think outside of the box, to be more creative.

That’s why the email to promote a visual storytelling training happening in Vienna could not have come at a better time. It felt like my prayers had been answered. A training that would bring me together with other visual storytellers, to work together and make videos about decolonising? Sign me up! 

The time soon came for me to go to the training. A missed train and a last minute flight later, I arrived in Vienna late at night, exhausted and hungry for the knowledge I would gain (besides my actual hunger, which was solved by Javier, one of our trainers, giving me an apple!)

When I first got to the training, I was anxious to see people I did not know, and I was wondering whether I would fit in, and if this training was even a good idea to begin with. I was also sceptical. How would they cram everything into just five days? Especially if they asked us to shoot, edit and then watch each of our videos?

Participants of the training sitting

It did not take long for me to see that these were people who shared the same values as I did, and they were looking for their next creative pursuit. I was able to quickly connect with people who shared the same passion for storytelling, and bounce ideas off each other, while also having a lot of fun in the process. 

As for my worries about the video shooting and editing, I found a reliable creative buddy in Raksha, who was there every step of the way as we brainstormed, decided on ideas, scratched said ideas, until finally deciding to make a mini documentary style short film together. 

On the last day, we had the Cinema Decolonise, where we showed our work on the big screen (the projector). I was impressed by everyone’s creativity, and the unique ways in which everyone chose to tell their stories. Everyone was on the edge of their seats, waiting for the next video.

However, it was not all work and no play! On the last night, we went to the Danube canal to chat and have drinks. On the way there, we saw a man standing barefoot on concrete, and we were debating the use of that. Was it healthier? Was it an aesthetic choice? Surely not.

‘Let’s just try and see’ – said Michelle, and took off her shoes and socks, as did Gloria. I would never do something like that, but, when in Vienna… So I took my shoes off and walked for five minutes to the canal. To my surprise, no one cared or judged us, or maybe I was so lost in the spontaneity and in the moment, that I didn’t even notice if they did. 

We sat down by a Cuban bar, right by the canal. We gathered in a circle, and played ‘Never Have I Ever’. I shared things I had never shared, and I’m glad I did, because we laughed and connected a lot. I also heard interesting things that made me respect the people even more. Needless to say, it was full of amazing stories that showed just how many layers there are to every single person. After that, we went to a queer club, we danced (while playing with a balloon), took pictures with a drag queen and overall had a lot of fun!

Participants on a night out, smiling and posing for a picture with a drag queen

It’s gatherings like these that make me feel grateful that I joined SCI and decided to do my IVS there. As for what’s next, we’ve made a common WhatsApp group with the participants, so that we can stay in touch. A few of us have mentioned making creative groups where we can collaborate and help each other tell the best stories we can tell. All that’s left is to take action, and tell stories together!

Group hug with everyone