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The Stories of Us Curriculum

Storytelling x LINC Curriculum - Week 5


  • To map our strengths and envision a future through a strengths-based approach.

Session Flow:

  • Oral Storytelling Circle (full class, in small groups, or in partners)
    • Example Prompt: What is a story about a time your mind and your heart told you different things?
    • Ikigai Writing Prompts (Individual)
  • Ikigai Shareback (full class, in small groups, or in partners)

Activity Templates

  • See Ikigai Framework below (one is slightly more detailed than the other, feel free to use the one that you feel would be best understood by your participants)
  • See Ikigai Writing Prompts template below

Facilitator Notes

  • Research shows that trauma can affect one’s beliefs about the future via loss of hope, limited expectations about life, fear that life will end abruptly or early, or anticipation that normal life events won’t occur (e.g. access to education, ability to have a significant and committed relationship, good opportunities for work)[1]. As such, the Ikigai activity is intentionally designed to avoid the kind of future planning that might overwhelm students and rather focus on indirectly exploring future possibilities through mapping one’s strengths and vision for the world.
  • Despite the positive, strengths-based focus of this session, teachers should anticipate reactions like, “I’m not good at anything” or “I don’t love doing anything anymore”. These beliefs are often rooted in trauma and are normal given the experiences that many newcomers have had. When statements like these come up, encourage students to think about and write down the things that they loved and/or were good at doing during a happier time in their life.
  • Validating students’ strengths as they share them – even if it’s through nods or mmm’s – is an important part of their process of internalizing that they are indeed strengths that hold value.
Graphic: A triangle bordered by bold, thick lines on each side. The top of the triangle is labeled “Views about the world: ‘The world is a dangerous place,’ ‘People cannot be trusted,’ and ‘Life is unpredictable’”. The bottom left corner of the triangle is labeled “Views about self: ‘I am incompetent,’ ‘I should’ve reacted differently,’ ‘It is too much for me to handle,’ and ‘I feel damaged’”. The bottom right corner of the triangle is labeled “Views about the future: ‘Things will never be the same,’ ‘What is the point? I will never get over this,’ and ‘It is hopeless’”.
Cognitive Triad of Traumatic Stress


[1] Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (US). Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2014. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 57.) Chapter 3, Understanding the Impact of Trauma. Available from:


As a warm-up to this exercise, teachers can expose students to the success stories of other immigrants who were once in their shoes. The Canadian Immigrant Magazine and RBC host The Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards every year, and their website includes an archive of past winners’ stories. Reviewing these stories with the students in the classes preceding the workshop can help expand their thinking around what is possible for their own futures. A selection of these stories which were used in this pilot are linked below for easy access. Choosing stories of winners who reflect the diversity in your class (genders, nationalities, languages, professions, etc.) may help the students feel more connected to the people they are reading about.

IKIGAI — A Japanese Concept Meaning “A Reason for Being”

Find your Ikigai.

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