Robert Vesleno is an international communications specialist and award-winning storyteller. His passion for telling authentic stories has brought him across the globe. His company, Robert Vesleno Consulting, partners with non-profit organisations and businesses around the world to provide writing, editing, marketing and communications services. If Robert is not stuck at a computer working, you might find him in the kitchen whipping up a gourmet meal.
How did you first become involved in your current role as a professional communicator?
I studied journalism at Ryerson University. I had always wanted to tell stories and report the news. So because of that I graduated from Ryerson and then came over to World Vision. It was here that I was able to land a job that required me to get stories and photos from the field. Not long after I got this job, I moved up in the ranks pretty quickly and started managing other people and helping train communicators around the world on how to tell stories better and do their craft well. And really share what’s going on around the world with donors and sponsors. I’ve really enjoyed the journey that I’ve been on. Stories have always been part of what I do; I just have a heart for it. I’m glad that my role and the way that I serve God has led me to where I am now, being able to do that on a consulting [or] freelance basis.
Tell us a bit about your experience with World Vision International. How did you get started here?
At the time, I had been interning with the Mississauga News, and the editor there had asked me to take their summer intern job. It was a great place to work, but for whatever reason, God told me to wait. Then a couple months later, this job opened up at World Vision and it was right up my alley. I spoke French and told stories. It was basically my dream job. To have that right out of university, I think was a blessing for me. So I applied for it and landed the job. I was also able to travel the world and meet people.
Because World Vision is a Christian organization, I was able to tell stories with a Christian lens and speak to sponsors and donors [who] also somewhat share in my faith. God has been good since, and I’ve learned how to really listen to His voice and His promptings, which has given me a better sense of where I should and shouldn’t be.
Can you maybe share one or two stories that have really impressed you of the power of storytelling?
I have so many. One story that I always enjoy sharing was from a time I was in Uganda. Back in the early 2000s in northern Uganda, there were heavy conflicts here. Rebels were kidnapping children and using them to fight in their war. So it became this situation where, as a military officer, you were faced with the decision: “Do you shoot the kid that’s pointing a gun at you? Or do you let them shoot you?” So there’s this psychological part —a spiritual fight going on. They were kidnapping children while they were going to school, and while they were sleeping.
So we were interviewing this girl for one story we were working on; she had no face. She had no nose and no mouth. What happened is that
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