StoryWork: Mentoring & Collaboration

delaney-and-nick
Nick Simon & Delaney Covelli

“The power of mentoring relationships is that they help anchor the vision of the potential self. They beckon the self into being . . . “

—Sharon Daloz Parks, Big Questions, Worthy Dreams

By Candace Walworth, PhD, Peace Studies program lead

Delaney Covelli left PAX 340 (Conflict Transformation: Theory and Practice) fall semester 2015 on fire to further develop her knowledge and skills as a digital storyteller and filmmaker. We sat down in my office and she posed the question: “How can I continue my education in the methods, theory and practice of story-work?”

I put her in touch with Daniel Weinshanker, the Rocky Mountain/Midwest region Director of the StoryCenter in Denver. Not long after, Delaney was back in my office with a proposal to fundraise through Generosity.com. The $2,500 Delaney raised from 42 people over the next ten months provided the funds needed to enroll in StoryCenter workshops and trainings this summer.

In mid-August I received an email from Daniel: “I can’t believe Delaney’s only twenty,” he wrote. “Seems like she’s been practicing listening for decades.”

To put her new knowledge and skills to work, I invited Delaney to return to PAX 340 last semester as a mentor for current students’ digital storytelling projects. Nick Simon (Interdisciplinary Studies 2018), among others, stepped up to consult with Delaney on visioning, script-writing, and story production.

According to Nick, the digital storytelling project has been on his radar screen since he first heard about it two semesters ago. “This project represented a chance to share one of my stories from traveling—something I’ve been longing to do and a part of myself that I feel has gone unseen by those in my life.”

Nick’s digital story, “Ebbs and Flows,” was one of the stories featured at Naropa’s Fifth Annual ePortfolio and Digital Storytelling Festival on December 7.

Nick describes “Ebbs and Flows” as revolving around four moments of awe—what Hinduism calls Atman or Universal Self. “In these moments I was brought back into my heart, into the Self that is not separate from anything else. This thread binds my four stories together and allows me to feel purpose here on this planet.”

Nick credits Delaney with not only offering insights into the filmmaking process, “but also challenging me to dig deeper—not just to tell the stories but to feel them, not just to pose for the visual images but to embody the essence of the experience they were depicting. Delaney has a real gift for all of this.”

“Listening to Nick’s wisdom was the most important thing,” Delaney said, reflecting on her experience of being a mentor, “and relinquishing my attachment to the outcome was the most challenging. All I could do was hold the edges.”

Delaney’s coursework last fall also included an Internship at StoryWorks, a Boulder-based agency that works with people to develop their stories and brands for film, web and mobile apps.

Given her many talents, I wasn’t surprised to learn that Delaney’s Internship has already led to a paid position with StoryWorks. She will graduate in May 2017 with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies (concentrations in Scientific Psychology and Peace Studies) and a minor in Visual Arts.

Experiencing the ripple effects of Nick and Delaney’s collaboration, at the end of yet another semester, I am once again inspired by Naropa students, the power of collaborative assignments and projects, and the community partners who “help anchor” students’ visions in current and future work.

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