Crossing Cultures

A Child’s Eye View

In South Carolina during Jim Crow, Cynthia Changaris is baffled by why black people get to ride in the “best part” of the bus with the great view out the rear window or why her playmate dies because he couldn’t get to a “colored hospital” in time.

A Gift from Refugee Children

Charlotte Blake Alston and colleague, Steve Tunick, chaperone 12 African and Jewish American teenagers for a cultural immersion trip abroad in Senegal in Africa. They receive a lesson about common humanity from a group of local children.

A Jewish Woman and Her German Friend

Cindy is an American Jewish college student studying in Paris when she meets Sabine, a German student. Their friendship feels almost illicit in the wake of World War II and the Holocaust. How does Sabine prove to be an ally?

A Journey Story

Patricia Coffie, learns that traveling to understanding is part of traveling from one physical place to another.   Some colleagues give her feedback on a joke she told and help her realize that change, based on understanding, takes action.

A Real Friend

A funny and touching story about two girls who live in a socially divided village in the heart of the industrial English Midlands. On one unusual day, they transcend the barrier that separates them the joy of  that brief friendship is long remembered.

A Tale of Two Weddings

“A Tale of Two Weddings” comically—and poignantly—captures the story of two similar, yet different weddings in Michele’s family. What does intermarriage mean? Is cultural insecurity really a thing? Could a story like this still happen today?

A White Girl Learns about the Black History of Australia

In the early 1980’s, Anne got a job as a children’s librarian in the Northern Territory of Australia. With a middle-class white background, she was to learn much about the black history of Australia. Have race relations changed in the last forty years?

Afternoon with Rachel, Holocaust survivor

Gene speaks with a Holocaust survivor who asks, “Tell me about your people?” Gene tells her of the 1835 Indian Removal Act and how his ancestors were forced to leave their homes and walk 800 miles through the winter.

Albuquerque

Growing up in New York City, Gerald Fierst’s neighborhood was Jewish. But when he went to visit cousins who had retired to Albuquerque, he discovered that “we all look alike when we are the other.”

America, the Land of Miracles

Noa grew up in Jerusalem, where America was the most exotic place other than Mars. In the 5th grade, Noa’s family left their home in Israel. She arrived in America speaking very little English. But miracles do happen…

An African Native American Story

Many Africans and First Nations people bonded together during and after slavery in the Americas and in the Caribbean for protection, acceptance, friendship and love. As a result, many African descendants also share Native American ancestries.

Another Way West

At age 16, in 1855, Jane’s great-grandfather sailed from N.Y. around the Horn to San Francisco where he was stranded! He took a job with Wells Fargo as a treasure agent in the Sacramento-Shasta Mining District, the home of the Shasta Indian Nation.

Barak: Aboriginal Artist and Storyteller

Anne knew nothing of the history of the First Nations people of Australia until she set on her path as a storyteller. Her journey to respect and understanding began at an exhibition by an aboriginal artist and charismatic storyteller, Berak Barak.

Beach Drowning and Race Riot

In researching housing history in segregated Chicago, Sue learns about the 1919 Chicago race riot. She wonders why she has not heard the story before now.

Between Worlds

At school Olga was taught not to speak Spanish or risk punishment. At the same time, her Japanese-American friends were able to learn the Japanese language and study its culture. How she could straddle multiple worlds too?

Black & White: Stereotypes and Privilege

Diggsy Twain, an African American man, tells a friend about an encounter he had on a train and what he did to stop the stereotype that all black men are angry. Then after telling his story he realizes anyone can stereotype the “other.”

Brush the Dirt from My Heart

Connie Regan-Blake was invited to Uganda and speaks to many women about the horrors of war and how they cope with the ravages of AIDS. She listened to their profound and transformative stories. This is one out of many…

Changing Neighborhoods

Sue grew up hearing about “them” – the people who would come and take her and her neighbors’ homes in their all-white neighborhood. When her family watched the Friday night fights, it was made clear who was “the other” and who was “us.”

Christmas Food Drive

During a high school Christmas food drive in 1965, Sue brings canned goods to a family living in Cabrini Green housing projects. Isn’t that a good thing? Why would the family resent her?

City Girls: North Side vs. South Side

In high school, Susan O’Halloran spent her first overnight away from her Chicago home and met people from different ethnic and racial groups. She learns that there is more to people and discovers layers of herself she had long been ignoring.

Close Encounters

Small town meets big city. Boundaries are crossed and cultures collide when a Midwest family encounters the boys from New York City. Will they find common ground or confrontation?

Construction

Storyteller Jim May relates his days working his way through school on a union construction crew; as well as the unions roll in softening the effects of classism and racism.

Culture Shock: An Israeli Immigrant Learns America

Noa arrived from Israel in 1990 the month Iraq invaded Kuwait and threatened to attack Israel. Here is the story of learning to live in a culture where the perceptions of time, space and values are completely different from your own.

Davy Crockett

As a five-year-old, Sue met a boy her age who was different from her. Sue’s mother subtly lets Sue know that she is not to be friends with the boy.

Everybody and Nobody: Racial Default Thinking

When Andy was a child living in the Deep South, he visited some of his family in Colorado. A woman out there told Andy, “Everybody in Georgia is a bigot.” This put him on the road to thinking about Racial Default Thinking.

Faster than Sooner

When Antonio Sacre was excluded from acting jobs due because he was either too ethnic or not ethnic enough, he began storytelling to pay the bills. Soon he encounters a grade school bully and discovers the power of bilingual storytelling.

Four Moments

Loren learned what White privilege means when he was willing to look at how it worked every day – in a traffic stop, at the store and in community meetings. Once Loren saw it, how could he not question, “This is what we live with?”

From Moon Cookies to Martin and Me

This is a personal journey tale from Lyn’s childhood living next door to a Holocaust survivor and, then, her adolescent small but mature steps into the greater Civil Rights Movement.

Grandpa’s Story

An American family gathers for a reunion with laughter, memories, and good ol’ corn beef and cabbage. Suddenly, the father kneels before his family and sobs apologetically, “Your country has betrayed you.”

Guatemala 1993: When Hope Is Rekindled

While visiting Guatemala with her teen sons, Susan O’Halloran hears stories of atrocities people are suffering because of Guatemala’s civil war. A moment of grace and wisdom restores her sense of hope and dedication.

Have Mouth Will Run It!

Michael D. McCarty reflects on how he discovered the art of storytelling. Michael and several of his storytelling colleagues consider the impact of storytelling in schools, in prison settings and in the community.

Hey, I’m Black Too! So, Where Do I Fit In?

Mama Edie’s new friend, Renee, grew up in a predominately white community during the Civil Rights years. When Renee attends college she learns the pain of being treated as an outsider by some of the other Africian American students.

Hot Chili and Crackers: A Racial Stew with Danger

In 1970 Mama Edie’s Black Theater Ensemble travels to perform at a university in Iowa. After what had been a peaceful and joyful journey, the ensemble members come to realize that Civil Rights had not yet fully taken root, not even in the north.

How Do You Say Blueberry in Spanish

Antonio explores the challenges and joys of trying to raise a bilingual child. As anxious new parents, Antonio and his wife ask, “Are two languages better than one?” and find humor along the way.

I Deserve To Be Here

Emily Hooper Lansana reminices about how her life would be if she believed what others told her. In this story you will learn what racial justice is allowing everyone the opportunity to same opportunities to succeed.

I Wanted To Be an Indian

Stories about our ancestors help us understand who we are. Encountering troubling revelations about her forebears and their Indian neighbors in colonial New England, Jo Radner asks what it means to tell – and live with – her whole, complex history.

I’m Gonna Let It Shine – It’s In All of Us

Bill Harley gathers a group of musicians together to record an album of Civil Rights freedom songs. However, they learn that they can’t assume they are all on the same page or that underlying emotions and biases aren’t in play.

If Only You Were Mexican

A director tells Antonio that he would produce his play if only he was Mexican. This makes Antonio reflect on the importance of listening to stories outside our own ethnic groups.

Immigrant Story

This story reveals how a group of immigrants rallied with resilience and ingenuity so that the 7th generation of Chinese Americans thrives today.

In Belfast

Loren travels to North Ireland and is continually asked, “Are you Catholic or Protestant?” By the way that question is asked and answered, layers of cultural assumptions are revealed.

In the Name of God Who Do You Seek

As part of a service project, Mary Gay and her best friend are to start a Girl Scout troop at a notorious reform school in New Orleans. As an adult, Mary Gay wishes she could go back to the school and ask for more for the girls.

Jimmy Nessar

An unlikely friendship is formed in a small-town barbershop. The friendship is not one that can openly flourish due to racism in the town. The story illustrates how one stands firmly and humbly in the face of racism while always willing to give back.

John Henry

This is a true story set in rural McHenry County, Illinois in the 1920s and 1930s about John Henry Higler, a man who claimed to be former slave who assimilated into an all white farm community.

Looking at My Yearbooks

Looking at high school yearbooks, Shanta reflects on the changes of her childhood neighborhood and as an adult, with a larger understanding of the times – blockbusting and other pressures – the sting of being “the other” remains.

Looking for Papito

As a Cuban and Irish American child, Antonio deals with being “too ethnic” or “not ethnic enough”. By trial and error and with the support of his family, Antonio reclaims all of his ethnic heritage and his Spanish language.

Loss and Acceptance

Karin had been a practical Asian woman and everything had been happening exactly as she planned until tragedy struck. With the help of storytelling in a support group to writing her Japanese blog she was able to overcome grief.

Martin and Me – A Coming of Age Story

Growing up, Steven was involved in Boy Scouts and his church and as a teen he advocated for community development in his New Jersey neighborhood. But could he get involved in the rising black militancy of the late 1960s?

Mexicans in Church

In Los Angeles Antonio goes to church with Mexican-American families where he finds people who are deeply into the ritual and their passion for their religion makes him proud.

Milwaukee BBQ

Loren who is white goes to a BBQ place in an all black neighborhood and comes to understand prejudice in a direct and personal way.

Mixing It Up

In schools, racial violence often stems from learned bias. Listening to one another is an antidote to the gap between people and transforms bias into deep concern and creative change.

More Alike than Not

Through exploring misconceptions and common threads such as immigration and disagreements within their own religions, these three tellers bring alive their distinct histories and our common humanity.

Mr. D’s Class

Thirty teens from twenty countries, one Jewish teacher, and one Cuban-Irish-American storyteller work with one of the poorest and most challenging high schools in Los Angeles. Will fear stop the project, or will they stand together?

My Civil Rights Moment

After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Beth realized that the fight for civil rights was happening right in her own home.  When she discovered the prejudice of her family, she had a choice to make. Her family’s beliefs? Or her own?

My Japanese Parents’ Unromantic Marriage

Karin never dreamed about marriage growing up because of her Japanese parents’ unromantic arranged marriage. But when her father had a severe stroke, her mother stuggled every day for months to teach him the basics – reading, walking and talking.

Navajo Code Talker

During WWII the Navajo Code Talkers created a code that was never broken. But in the past, the Navaho were forced off their reservations into boarding schools where they were told not to speak their language or practice their culture.

Negotiating the Narrows

As a young child in the 1950s, Susan Klein, raised Methodist, was intrigued by the mysterious practices of her Roman Catholic friends and neighbors. Susan’s growing awareness of religious difference and how it might indicate value—someone is better, someone is worse—caused her to understand how some in her community might viewed her friendship with an African American girl.

Next Town

While traveling from California to Lousiana, Diane’s family stops at a restaurant. A “whites only” sign hangs near the door and Diane’s family, all black, must eat in the kitchen. She learns about prejudice and how to keep in high spirits that day.

No Aguantara

When Carrie Sue and her fiancé decided to marry there were many who thought their relationship would not last long – including the representative from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico who was handling their visa.

No Friends but the Mountains

An encounter with a young, Kurdish refugee leaves Diane face to face with how her government is perceived outside of her own country. How could this brief exchange, where neither could speak the other’s language, lead to a lifetime of advocacy?

Passing for WASP

Carol believes: “To build a bridge from one culture into another and make pluralism a cause for celebration, we have to have one foot firmly planted in who we are.” When exploring her Polish and Scottish roots, she wonders, am I living what I teach?

Precious Lord

Robert Jones talks about the roots of Gospel music and the influence of Thomas A. Dorsey and Mahalia Jackson.

Racism on the Road and Into the Next Generation

Brenda performs a song in Japanese and is told to stop using “demonic language” and is called “a witch.” Unfortunately, bias and ignorance is also visited on the next generation when her son is mistaken for another Japanese American student.

Roots to Rap

Rev. Jones gives a rousing illustration of how today’s rap music has evolved from the blues and earlier musical forms.

Rosie the Riveter

During WWII many women took on the jobs and duties of men who had left for war. They were known simply as “Rosie.” In this excerpt you’ll meet an African American Rosie who fought racism, sexism and changed the nature of the 1944 workplace.

School Spirit

In the Cold War era, in a high school without a soul, Erica experienced brief inclusion in the best girl’s clique! Then, she was dropped and fell into hopeless disappointment and depressions. But with her father’s help and the inspiration of a House on Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) witness, she found her power and the school found its spirit.

Searching for My Appalachia: A Modern Jack Tale

In a chance encounter, Kevin Cordi meets someone others might classify as a “redneck.” Cordi begins a short conversation with this very pleasant man named Jack. Jack explains to Cordi about the nature of the term “redneck” and asks, “When did dirt and hard work become something bad?” In that moment, Cordi reconnects with and feels pride in his mountain heritage.

Seeing the Other

One day, 5-year old Arif learns how to play with a dreidel and learns about the differences between Christians and Jews.

Seriously… What Did You Call Me?!

While getting a passport Onawumi Jean discovered that her name is not on her birth certificate. Her aunt is able to clear up the mystery by disclosing a concession Onawumi’s mother made to get along and keep her job in the Jim Crow South.

Small Town Silence

A wannabe comedian in the suburbs of Pittsburgh finally meets a professional comic who is willing to take him under his wing. Will silence over the discovery of a small town’s nasty racial secret destroy the friendship before it can even begin?

Sparta, Georgia

Gene travels across the country to see the land of his people. Along his journey, he meets a southern white couple on a backcountry dirt road and an old black man in Sparta, Georgia who fought with First Nation men during the Korean War.

Spring

Storyteller Jim Stowell tells how an immigrant woman is faced with trials and hardships, and how she established a sense of pride and dignity for herself and her family.

Sudden Story

Laura Simms, tells a boy – an ex- child soldier from Sierra Leone, West Africa – a story in a taxicab. The story within this story relieves his misery and she discovers the power of the tale and reveals the boy’s innate and potent resilience.

Take Me To Your Leader

During the McCarthy witch-hunts (a period of anti-communism intensity), the Cold War and the Space Race, Yvonne Healty describes how we learned to “blend” ethnic identities.

Tewas Go Home

Eldrena is confused when she sees a poster and students say the same thing. She asks her Tewa-Hopi grandmother what the words mean. In the process she hears a story that teaches her about integrity no matter how much time passes.

The Bridge Collapse

A bridge collapses in Minneapolis and makes the news. While watching the stories from that day Kevin is aware of the great diversity in his city. Citizens of every color and creed were there to rescue and help people in the midst
 of tragedy.

The Immigration Process vs. Pre-Wedding Bliss

To get married, Arianna and her fiancé had to prove that their love was real. Complexity arose as they entered the immigration process. As they hit barrier after barrier, they quickly learned the unpredictablility of US immigration.

The Nuns

Growing up in his New York City Jewish neighborhood was a world of homogeneity for Gerry. But an occasional intrusion of “alien nuns” could be truly scary to a young child unfamiliar with other religions.

The Oberlin Rescue of 1858

John Price escapes from slavery in Kentucky and reached Oberlin, Ohio. There he sees Black shopkeepers and college stuents to he decides to stay. The problem is, a slaver catcher is coming for him.

The Other 9/11 Story

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, demonstrations against Muslims arose in different parts of Chicago. One group of Chicagoans on the southwest side of the city decided to support their Muslim neighbors.

The Other Block

In the melting pot of the very poor, Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, NY neighborhood, there lived Irish, Italians, Blacks, Polish, Jews and one Holocaust escapee kid — Erica. Kids only played with their own kind on their own block, but since Erica didn’t belong to any of those groups, she got to play with everybody. For Erica, that’s how unexpected friendships (and unexpected prejudices) formed.

The Power of Love

When faced with a potentially explosive situation, Michael McCarty decides to let love guide his actions and words. The result is one that only love can achieve.

The Promise: A Lesson in White Privilege

What happens when the warm connection between a black woman and a white woman is broken by insensitivity and unconscious white privilege? Are courage, honesty, forgiveness and hope enough to heal the separation?

The Spirit Survives (Part I — Gertrude Bonnin)

Dovie shares her knowledge of the Indian Boarding School experiement with her daughter and us. She weaves history, biography, autobiography and personal reflection in the story that she never “wanted” to tell. But some stories need to be told…

The Spirit Survives (Part II — Grandpa)

The “Indian Experiment” in education, the government boarding schools, is unknown to many Americans, yet affects us all. Following forty years of study of these stories, Dovie knew she had to share what she’d learned that would be essential to her daughter, and all of us. She weaves history, biography, autobiography and personal reflection in this story that she never “wanted” to tell. But there are some stories that need to be told…

The Story of My Teacher

Kiran reveals his experiences with racism as one of the few brown boys in his town contrasted with the kindness of strangers as well as the inspiration he received from his storyteller teacher, Mr. George.

The Teacher as Learner

Nancy shares some of her favorite teaching moments when students from different cultures turn the tables and teach her about stories from their cultures. Nancy learns just how challenging it is to communicate in another language.

The Two Warriors

This story is about the meaninglessness of war and the commonality of all people. It also is about how two people can come to terms with each other and learn to accept their differences.

Three Sisters

In 1988 Jim and his wife lived with a family in Nicaragua. Jim learned about gratitude by watching how a young girl appreciated something as simple as a single piece of gum or a sheet of paper.

Tipping the Scales

When camp started, tension was high between the Chinese kids and Black and Latino kids in Robin’s group. But over the summer, the children began to let their defenses down and make new friends. That is, until Daniela returned.

Too Crazy to Know Better

Jay O’Callahan shares storyteller Sandra Harris’s story of her involvement in the Civil Rights struggle in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

Where Are You From?

Bangladeshi-American Muslim storyteller, Arif Choudhury, shares stories about growing up as the only “brown-skinned boy” in the neighborhood and how 9-11 changed how others might perceive him and his family.

Why Do You Want to go to College?

In high school, Olga was told by her counselor that her Mexican family was too poor for her to go to college.  Hear how she found a way around this negative advice.

You Never Know What the End Will Be

In 1972 Diane marries “outside her race” and her mother-in-law refuses to attend the wedding, among other things. What happens to the family’s relationship afterward is anyone’s guess. A story of hope and a reminder that love conquers many things.