Changing the world a story at a time

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El Paso – Want to get people to take action to fix a social problem? Entertain them with a story, Anu Sachdev says.

Sachdev, a UTEP Communication graduate who is now program manager for “edu-tainment” specialists PCI Media Impact, came back to El Paso recently to show UTEP students and faculty how storytelling is shifting the audience view to pay attention to social global issues.

Speaking at a brown bag session Oct. 30 at the Sam Donaldson Center for Media Studies, Sachdev emphasized an entertainment education approach to social change locally and globally. She said it is essential for educational stories to have an engaging story with characters for the audience to relate to.

“In the last 30 years we’ve produced more than 5,000 episodes of hundreds of stories, thousands of stories and changed many lives over and over again by engaging people in their own culture,” she said.

The purpose of educational entertainment is to bring awareness and to any social issue through a storytelling. Its aims to help the audience understand complex issues through a narrative and a more personal perspective.

PCI Media Impact is an international non-profit organization based in New York, that works to empower communities worldwide to bring positive social and environment change through storytelling.

“We do stories for social change, we tell stories around the word,” Sachdev said. “We change the narrative of what people are, what their problems are, and how they can really change.”

PCI Media Impact creates stories on all sorts of issues. There is no restriction on what social issue can have a story created.

“We do stories on health, sexual health, violence, environment such as climate change.”

Sachdev believes every social problem has a story to tell to address that specific problem.

“The range of issues that we make of stories is very broad. Anything and everything has a story to share, and we make stories about literally everything.”

The outcome expected of these educational entertainment stories is to get people who are directly affected to speak up and act upon the problem they or their community is facing.

“The goal is really how can people engage with that narrative and then become part of their own development rather than point our fingers at them,” Sachdev said. “So we tell the story to portray something and people interact with the characters and stories to talk to each other about what they can do about it.”

Sachdev talked of how the edu-tainment approach is being used at UTEP and in El Paso to bring awareness to the issues that need more attention.

“There is a UTEP-based program, the Social Justice initiative called Media Change Make Us, and it does entertainment education specifically on how stories create change.” Sachdev said.

Her experience with the program at UTEP helped her professional work, she said.

“I got introduced to the Social Justice Initiative while I was here at UTEP and what I studied I was able to take to the field.”

Sachdev said living in El Paso also helped her to see how stories can impact people.

“I really understood many things that living in the border teaches you. The different cultures, different people, different narrative, the way people talk, and the things people talk about.”

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