About Guestbook Project

Guestbook’s mission is to promote peacebuilding through storytelling. We believe that exchanging stories is the key to resolving conflict. It goes to the heart of one-to-one communication between opposed people and peoples, and provides a necessary supplement to the standard models of law, economics and politics. Narrative exchange calls for imagination, empathy and invention in emerging generations. If stories divide, they also unite. The Guestbook Project encourages, rewards and publicizes the most innovative narrative models for advancing peace.

Exchanging Stories - Changing History

Exchanging Stories – Changing History is an ongoing Guestbook initiative which creates opportunities for young people from communities that have been polarized by boundaries and borders, by religious and cultural beliefs, by war, acute poverty or injustice, to use digital filmmaking to record their stories and engage in a new, shared creative project. Working with peace organizations, community art groups, our corporate partnerships, innovative schools and cultural workers we encourage the next generation to exchange stories in order to change history.

Richard Kearney on Guestbook

Why Now?

Recent media images of young people abducting, torturing and killing each other in Jerusalem and elsewhere are stark reminders of just how urgent it is to actively invite “emerging generations” into the healing process of narrative imagination. Our project offers young people in divided communities sometimes their only chance to meet “the adversary”. Through our project, they come together, make something new, and experience the possibility of co-existing otherwise.

Testimonials

Sarit Larry, Israeli student who worked on a Guestbook video project on Palestian-Israeili student exchange of stories entitled “Beyond the Divide”
Working on the Guestbook Project brought several aspects of my work together and opened a new path. For the first time in my career as a doctoral student my interest in otherness met its political significance. Today I work in Israel organizing political communities through the sharing of personal stories and calling for communal action. It is always an incredible and very rich experience to be able to stand in the crossroad of your deeply felt passions and interests and find they inform each other in such meaningful, and fundamental ways. I owe the Guestbook a lot.

Jeannie Marshall, student from Derry/Londonderry who worked on GB video project of ‘Exchanging Narratives’, entitled “In Peace, Apart”
I have enjoyed every minute of the Guestbook project. It has been filled with fun and has improved my knowledge on different religions. This project has given me the opportunity to make new friendships with people I would never have met before. I definitely would do it all over again and hope to build more friendships with people from cross communities.

Clay Venetis, NYU Law Student and maker of Guestbook video on US/Mexican border exchange, “Under Strange Sun”
I tried to have native citizens and immigrants in Los Angeles tell their stories to each other. The story-telling quickly got away from me; the city’s history came out of its shadowy back rooms and told me, “You’ve had it all wrong.” The narrative I knew of my own hometown was rocked. For that lesson alone, working with the Guestbook Project was essential.

Chris Chung, Korean student, Boston College, co-participant in the Guestbook video, ‘Dokdo or Takeshima: Between Islands’
The experience of listening to the Japanese student, who had a totally different understanding of and perspective on the Dokdo islands, was enlightening. It enhanced my knowledge of the history of Dokdo, as well as that of Korea and its relationship with Japan. Transforming the turbulent history of territorial conflict into a creative exchange of stories and animation, the film became a springboard for dialogue about the issue of co-existence and the possible consideration of the Dokdo islands as a place of reconciliation.

Who We Are

Directors of the Guestbook Project

Richard Kearney

Professor Richard Kearney is a philosopher, writer and holds the Charles Seelig Chair at Boston College. He has authored many books on modern European philosophy and culture with special focus on themes of narrative imagination, hospitality and healing. As a public intellectual in Ireland and Britain, he was involved in drafting a number of proposals for a Northern Irish peace agreement (1983, 1993, 1995).

Sheila Gallagher

Sheila Gallagher is a multimedia artist and professor of Studio Art at Boston College. Exhibited widely in the United States, her recent work explores themes of interreligious imagination. She is the co-director and curator of the Becker Collection, the largest private collection of US Civil War drawings.

"We believe that stories of peace transform the storytellers and their listeners alike."

“We believe that social media is optimally suited to spreading peace. It is ubiquitous, familiar, low cost and readily allows the global population to embrace, as our own experience with our website has shown, stories of peace. Through our Exchanging Stories – Changing History Project, we feature young people’s films for the world to see, and award prizes each year for the best films – prizes that transform lives and communities.”

Elise Zoli, Chairman of the Board

Current Board of Directors

Elise Zoli, Chair (Partner in Goodwin Procter LLP)
Petra Belkovic (Founder Director of the European Center for the Study of War and Peace)
Aidan Browne (Partner in Sullivan Worcester LLP)
Jean Duff (Executive Director of Center for Interreligious Action on Global Justice)
Paul Freaney (Director of Graduate Studies at the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art and Technology)
Mark Goodman (Managing Director, MassMutual Ventures)
Kent Harrington (KYON Products)
Joe Lambert (Director of the Center for Digital Storytelling)
James Mahoney (Global Corporate Communications and Public Policy Executive, Bank of America)
Esther Mombo (Kenyan Theologian, woman’s activist and leading member of the Program for Christian and Muslim relations in Africa)
Siddartha (founder director of the Fireflies Intercultural Center in Bangalore, India)
Sue Schardt (Executive Director, Association of Independence in Radio, President SchardtMedia)

Advisory Board

Anne Bernard
Marta Ceia
Josh Cole
Moya Coulson
Melissa Fitzpatrick
David Goodman
John Harrington
Timo Helenius
Fanny Howe
Sarah Kearney

Tim Lindgren
Murray Littlejohn
Michael McDonald
Brian O’Donovan
John Peto
Noirin Ni Rian
Robert Savage
Kevin Sweet
James Taylor
Clay Venetis
Fatima Vieira

International Partners

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A diverse, multi-cultural, non-partisan global movement led by young professionals who are strongly committed to long-term transformation of conflict and sustainable peace.

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An innovative three year project which introduces new, curriculum-linked, digital approaches to the study of conflict into schools in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and internationally.

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Northern Ireland’s leading creative media arts centre. More than 120,000 people a year benefit from the Nerve Centre’s wide-ranging programme of arts events, cutting edge projects, creative learning centres, training opportunities, and state-of-the-art production facilities.

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The Center for Digital Storytelling partners with organizations around the world to develop programs which support individuals in rediscovering how to listen to each other and share first person stories. Our group process, and the stories that emerge serve as effective tools for change amidst a world of technology and media overload

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An international collaborative programme commemorating 500 years since the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia. The project, promoted by the University of Porto with the support of the Utopian Studies Society / Europe, is being carried out globally throughout 2016 with the aim of engaging the public in the notion of utopia as a driver of social change and a source of inspiration and innovation.

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A global organization headed up by some of the world’s most and influential authors, artists and community leaders who have come together to promote empathy through the exchange of stories. In an effort to break down barriers and shatter stereotypes, N4 encourages people to walk in each other’s shoes and prove that not only does every story matter, every life matters.

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A ‘First World solution to a Third World Problem.’ An innovative solar powered solution for the deployment of information technologies in education (ICTs) in multigrade and single grade classrooms in India and sub Saharan Africa.

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The Forum for Cities in Transition brings together protagonists from divided societies. Its guiding principle is that one divided society is in the best position to help another.

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Boston College was founded in 1863 by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Today it is one of the nation’s foremost universities, with an enrollment of nearly 14,700 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries.