Education and Life Lessons

A Black American Son’s Survival Lessons

A frantic call from Sheila Arnold’s son during his freshmen year in college turns into a moment to remember all that she had to teach him about growing up black, and what he had learned about crossing bridges in spite of people’s perceptions.

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 Father’s Gift

In 1965, there was a war between India and Pakistan and Bilal wanted to know “Why is there all this hate?” This is the true story of a special gift Dr. Bilal Ahmed, a Pakistani Muslim, received from his father when he was thirteen.

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 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?

A Yiddish King Lear

Judith remembers that her grandfather, Oscar Markowitz, was an actor in the Yiddish Theatre at the turn of the 20th Century. A story about hard choices, hopes, dreams, racial persecution, and love!

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.

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.

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.

Bittersweet: Mom’s Story

Nancy dives into why her relationship with her mother has been one of ambivalence. Her journey is colored by the differences between Chinese and Western values and behaviors making it even more difficult to understand.

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.”

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.

City of Hope

In 2011, Susan O’Halloran meets a group of young people at an Occupy Chicago demonstration who are unaware of activists’ movements in the past that occupied public lands. She shares with them the story of The 1968 Poor People’s Campaign.

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.

Cost of Racism

As Motoko raises her Japanese son in the U.S., she is reminded of prejudice against Koreans in her own country, and discovers the importance of the language we use to create the world we live in.

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.

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.

Finding Josephus

When Lyn Ford was young, “Finding Josephus” was a “legend” told by her father. But curiosity and research brought forth its reality, and a connection both to the lesser-known history of the Underground Railroad and the heart of her father’s story.

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.

Grow to Give: An Interfaith Food Equity Project

The true tale of how storytelling inspired a group of diverse religious leaders in the town of Huntington, NY, to dig up their congregational lawns, grow vegetables tended by congregants, and then donate the produce to local food pantries.

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 Am Somebody

Reflecting on her family, storyteller Linda Gorham raises powerful images in celebration of her ancestors in “I Am Somebody.” From a proud and determined father to a strong and devoted mother to a dedicated and intelligent grandfather, Linda shares bits of her life and family with listeners. As the story continues, it is clear that family has made her who she is. It is clear that family is most important to her.

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 See Your Problem, John

In the 1980’s, John was an IT executive in a large bank based in Atlanta, Georgia. The bank received pressure to greatly increase workforce diversity. John turned to an African American friend for help and the friend’s insight changed everything.

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.

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.

Learning at the Dinner Table

Bill’s mother and father came from families at the opposite ends of the political spectrum. One Thanksgiving dinner, Bill’s father stands up to in-laws making bigoted comments and Bill learns a valuable lesson about taking a stand.

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.

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.

Mama Said

Michael’s mother models the importance and love of reading, but, mostly importantly, the value of kindness. When Michael tours in Brazil, he discovers that his mother was teaching the students there as well.

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?

Mattie’s Story: From Darkness into the Light

Dreading spending the summer with her strong willed grandmother, a young Earliana learns the true strength in “black beauty”. She finds that no matter how different we may look, we all have the capacity to feel and be kind to one another.

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.

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?

Music to Dream of Cuba By

Antonio’s father listened to classical music that transported him back to his beloved Cuba. Antonio thinks of listening to music in the future with his son and the memories and scenes the music will evoke.

My Chinese Grandfather

Brenda’s grandfather collects, dries and sells seaweed along the coast of California. When she is older, she finds his ways strange and the work hard, but the two find unique ways of talking and enjoying each other’s company.

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.

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.

On the Bus: Saved By an Angel

A woman tells Jon a story about how a stranger saved her from arrest and morse but leaves before she completes her story. As Jon reflects, he asks: are we prepared to help a stranger when they need us most?

Onara

Based on a true story, a young girl wonders about the difference between “hakujin” (white people) and “nihonjin” (Japanese people) while in an internment camp in WWII. She speculates as to why hakujin do not onara (a euphemism for “passing gas”).

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?

Penny for Your Thoughts

Diane Ferlatte white man at a restaurant and tries to be friendly. When he responds with a grunt she labels him a “mean old white man.” Later she learns his story and the importance of reaching across barriers of race, age and culture.

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.

Raising a Glass to My Teachers

Pam Faro grew up in very white central Wisconsin. Decades later, over a glass of wine with family, she learned that something she’d always done innocently was racially hurtful. How could a class taken way back in high school be of any help?

Remembering Lisa Derman

Jim May remembers holocaust survivor, Lisa Derman, who died suddenly of a heart attack while telling a the story that had defined her contributions to the fight against anti-Semitism, as well as against genocide the world over.

Roots to Rap

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

School of Invisibility

Charlotte Blake Alston accepts position at a Quaker school and expects she’ll be part of a school committed to respect and equality for all members of the school community. But true equity, she finds, is awareness, sensitivity and diligence.

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.

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.

Storyteller Rap

Michael McCarty has a poem about the importance of reading, storytelling and what he learned from his mother.

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.

Tales – and Conversations – from Beyond the Ban

A college teacher learns traditional tales to advocate for international students whose countries have been targeted by an anti-Muslim travel ban. Interviewing the students about the tales they grew up hearing uncovers images that help them endure.

Taming the Fire: A Black Heritage Search

One day an angry black girl stormed into history class and demanded to know why she had not heard about black inventors. Her favorite teacher, who was white, was faced with a decision and in making it an entire classroom of students was changed.

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 Book

Linda’s father had a little black book. He said it was written just for her and he said it was full of all the values she needed for a successful life. Linda loved it. She believed in it, but it took time to understand just what a gift it was.

The Day the Nazis Came

An excerpt from Syd Lieberman’s book, Streets and Alleys, this is a true story of the day the Nazis spoke near Syd’s home at Lovelace Park in Evanston, IL and Syd’s surprising reaction.

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 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.

Three Assassinations: Kennedy, King, Kennedy

Megan was confused when her 9th grade classmates reacted differently to the assassination of President Kennedy than her family did. Who was right? She learns to listen to her heart to find what was truth for her.

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.

Two Women: Alone in the Vast Alaskan Wilderness

When their hunting party was suddenly attacked by a rival group, two upper Kuskokwim women escaped the onslaught to find themselves alone on the wild Alaskan landscape. With slim resources in such a vast, unforgiving wilderness would they survive?

Vindication

Michael and some classmates hold a walk out due to limited black history curricula and are expelled. Decades later, Michael is brought back to the school to receive his high school diploma and the school’s gratitude.

What’s a Mexican?

Olga explores the various labels for her ethnic group: Mexican, American, Mexican American, Latina, Chicana and so on. In doing so, she finds out how she wants to define herself and her pride in her cultural life.

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.