The Magic Diary Initiative, a unique collaborative movement in unifying people across all boundaries, launched the first of its volumes of A Pocketful Dreams: a travelling diary and some storytellers, from America & Australia, on 14 February worldwide on Amazon as a Kindle eBook.
The three volumes from Australia & America; Europe & Africa; and South Asia & Far East, represent the transcontinental experience of a travelling magic diary, which hops from one place to another in search of a storyteller. The result of which is a remarkable collection of 50 short stories or diary entries, from across the globe, written by both amateur and veteran writers, as old as nine and young as 70.
Entertaining and engaging, the stories are both fictional and non-fictional – some anecdotal, some reflective, some topical and others imaginative – imbued with the flavours of different countries.
The achievement of this initiative, however, does not lie in producing a mere collection of stories. The Magic Diary is a rare example of universal brotherhood and a roadmap to the world in its lessons in team spirit. Every member has contributed to the build-up of the project.
The Magic Diary initiative started in August 2015 with the spark of a dream and a handful of storytellers who trusted in that dream. All of these initial participants were from Coursera English Composition I program offered by Duke University. They wanted to do something meaningful with their learning. Little did they realize then that they were spearheading a movement of sorts… a unique collaborative movement of unifying people across all boundaries.
What is interesting about this group is that they had never met before, other than virtually, and came from a multicultural background of diverse ethnicities. “A community mobilization initiative of this proportion needed a clear roadmap and had to be intensely participative to help individuals grow a sense of ownership with the project,” says Project Coordinator Jayalasksmi Sengupta. To achieve such a feat across different time zones and restrictive firewalls looked daunting at first.
One thing that helped them to come together quickly as a team was the peer-review-and-learning process, where each and every member had to critique everyone else’s work. It was a great support system that helped them grow as writers and as valuable team members with a healthy respect for each others’ culture, beliefs, and outlook. A core group of editors mentored this process and helped members in their respective teams to improve their writing. Communication with friends from Morocco, Iran, and China who could not be part of the Facebook group proceeded through regular email updates and Google spreadsheets.
The Magic Diary initiative has turned into a unique, heartwarming people’s project today, garnering an unprecedented amount of goodwill along its way. The members would have given their book for free, but they have decided they shall instead donate all proceeds towards charitable causes like promoting literacy and spreading education.
Every volume comes with a free collection of recipes from the storytellers from different parts of the world.
This unique initiative has been spearheaded and curated by Jayalasksmi Sengupta (India), ably assisted by the remarkable artist Pat Southern-Pearce (UK), another talented artist Lorinna Hastings (Australia), and editors Elin Babcock, Lynda Cramer, and Nancy Pocklington (USA), Danica LeBlanc (Canada), and Reina Wang (Taiwan). She has also received invaluable assistance from Zoha Khan (Pakistan), Mane Mehrabian (Armenia), Peter Chikoyi (Zambia), Cristina Costea (Romania), and Ry Auscitte (Australia), Mimoun Zeggai (Morocco), and Meghdad Arabi (Iran), among many others. All were Coursera students.