Ankit

Educator, 2013
Seeds of Peace Fellow, 2015

IMPACT: SOCIAL

Researching and summarizing ap­proaches to teaching history through creative and criti­cal thinking.

Ankit was thoughtful, passionate, supremely gifted, filled with love and purpose. He was a storyteller and an inspiring human being. There are no words for when somebody with such talent, such heart, such promise, dies so soon. May we cherish his memory. Friends and colleagues of Ankit’s from across our community are exploring ways to celebrate his life and honor his memory. If you have ideas or would like to be involved, please contact Daniel (daniel@seedsofpeace.org).

How has Seeds of Peace had an impact on you?

I participated in the “Making History” Seeds of Peace Educators’ Course and a subsequent workshop held in Jordan in June 2014. I was inspired by this experience to begin exploring multivocality in narratives, and developed Project Agora, which focuses on the spaces where text (where we are) and context (where we come from) meet.

How are you impacting your community?

I am an India-based writer and storyteller who brings together oral narrative performance, literature, and history. While earning my undergraduate degree in history at Hindu College at the University of Delhi, I started scripting street plays. After working as a web marketing professional at digital startups, I quit my job to pursue storytelling as my full-time occupation and specialize in bringing new content to Dastangoi, a traditional art of Urdu storytelling.

I am the author of the national award-winning children’s book My Gandhi Story, and also work on history education through chil­dren’s literature. This includes research and conducting workshops at leading institutions across India. I have collaborated closely with leading non-profits to tell stories of conflict between culture and development. I have also spoken about storytelling at various presti­gious platforms including the Jaipur Literature Festival, the University of Toronto, TEDx, and the State Council of Educational Research and Training.

Project Agora’s area of focus is the confluence of stories and history. My idea is to pursue the historical narratives within literary works and also build on the literary aspects of scholarly writings on the past. To encourage cross-cultural understanding, the project will include research on a diverse selection of children’s books that relate to history. Based on my findings, I will prepare a report analyzing approaches to teaching history through creative and critical thinking with narratives as a foundation. A resource book incorporating best practices, along with an online repository, are part of the project’s scope.

Given how rarely South Asian children’s literature engages with diverse historical narratives, Project Agora seeks to set benchmarks in terms of sensitivity towards local culture. The success of this project will be in enabling students to engage with the past to build an understanding towards a peaceful future.

IN THE PRESS

Dastangoi – the ancient art of Urdu storytelling, on the road to revival in India (YourStory)

“We live in times when we have forgotten to listen. We are refusing to acknowledge the other. My work of oral telling of tales from our cultures and histories is inspired by the belief that listening will enable us to recognize and respect that there is another version of the story we believe in.”