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.
What is it like to be so immersed in a culture that a lady on the bus and the bus driver become family? While Arianna Ross travelled alone through Indonesia, she discovered that sometimes family is defined by a connection and not blood.
“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?
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?
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.”
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…
During the 1960’s, Patricia Redd’s family moved to the a new community in South Chicago. Hers was one of the first African- American families to integrate the parish school. Before long she begins to understand the effects of “white-flight.”
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.
Sadika witnessed the Lebanese civil war. The atrocities and the horrors can change a human being into a monster. Is there any hope for tolerance, love and forgiveness after such an experience? “Uncle George” made the difference.
At 14, storyteller Laura Packer visited friends living in the rural south and encountered negative assumptions about Judaism for the first time.
Rebecca, a Filipino American, grew up in nearly all-white neighborhoods and schools. In 2000, she began reconnecting with her Filipino heritage and became a woman of color.
In kindergarten, Linda was told by her classmates, “You act white! You dress white! You have white people’s hair…” And then, the taunting began. It took Linda a long time to understand what it means to be black.
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?
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.”
New York City born-and-raised Michele goes on a trip to Paris, France, and learns what it means to be both a Nuyorican (a New York Puerto Rican) and an American in a way she didn’t expect. And what does being “an American” really mean, anyway?
“Ranger Linda” describes her encounter with a group of well-intentioned Chinese Americans bearing bullfrogs. This surprising incident illustrates how cultural differences can have unintended consequences.
Jasmin gets engaged and then questions about her identity and her role as a woman surface as she tries to weed through old world Latino expectations while being an educated American woman today.
This story speaks of the imposed mental conditioning that inspires people to despise their own natural attributes. It also explores how this toxic conditioning has led to people seeing themselves as being “less than,” not as “beautiful.”
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.
Charles Ishikawa grew up in Plantation camps in Waipahu, Hawaii. He was just 14 years old when Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Afterward, he and his family worried if they were American enough.
Inanc Karakaylak was sent from Turkey to Muscatine, Iowa as an Exchange Student where he experienced intense culture clashes, ridicule, and cold weather. However, he was blessed to have an amazing host family including Christian Minister, Hal Green.
What if the U.S. went to war with your country of origin? Anne Shimojima tells of the difficult days following the attack on Pearl Harbor, when her Japanese-American family were forced to evacuate their home.
Chinese food was considered to be “exotic” by the Lo Fan or White people in 1850s San Francisco. This story follows one of the legends surrounding the origins of a popular Chinese American dish, which for a good myth.
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.
Kucha was born in the North, but her Southern family values and ties came North with her family. In this story, Kucha wonders why everyone feels the need to pigeon hole other people?
As a teen E.B. liked being unique but his coaches wanted him to fit in. Then years later as an attorney he wants to hire someone who reminds him of himself. He decides to hire her and let her find out if she wants to fit in or standout.
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?”
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.
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.
A server navigates the sometimes subtle and sometimes blunt racial comments he receives while working at a restaurant.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How would the government treat your family if it went to war with your ancestors’ country of origin? Anne Shimojima describes life in an incarceration camp for her Japanese-American family during World War II.
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.
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.
A chance encounter is an unexpected blessing for a teenager, who discovers that true strength is rooted within, extending down into the roots of the ancestors.
Sometimes we forget about the diversity that exists within a faith and within a family. In this story, Arif is reminded of how he is different from some of the relatives in his Muslim family.
In the early 1960s, a Black student feels relief to encounter a White teacher who operates without apparent bias. However, he soon discovers that, in spite of her kind heart, his teacher unknowingly perpetuates White superiority.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Carol’s father is told he is not permitted to run on the track team at the University of Pennsylvania. Two Jewish runners in the 1936 Berlin Olympics are not permitted to participate relays. All are Jewish and all three have the same coach.
A story about Elizabeth, an “Army brat”, who must navigate the world for her Korean immigrant mother. Through this process she learns to stop being embarrassed by her mother and shifts to standing up for her.
Motoko tells a story about her own experience of sexual harassment in Japan, how she was trapped into silence imposed by her culture, and how storytelling helped her break through the silence and heal herself.
Ada Cheng explains the meanings of her Chinese name: Shu-Ju, and the connection to expectations of her parents and their Chinese culture. She details why she chose to stay with the name Ada and what the name means to life and identity.
Kiran shares the stories he heard about his parents’ three migrations from India to Uganda to England.
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.
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.
During WWII a Japanese American nurse is forced to leave her belongings and home to be imprisioned in an incarceration camp. Traveling to the camps a baby who should have been in the hospital takes a turn. The end-result is out of the nurse’s hands.
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”).
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?
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.
Five-year-old Kiyoshi lives in world that has been turned upside down since Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Since then his father was taken away and his family moved living briefly in a horse stall before ending up in a place called Minidoka.
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.
One day, 5-year old Arif learns how to play with a dreidel and learns about the differences between Christians and Jews.
Soon after 10-year old Michele’s great-grandmother dies, she gets lost at New York City’s Puerto Rican Day Parade. What happens next confirms she doesn’t fit in with her family or her people. Can you remember a time you felt you didn’t belong?
Amber, Misty, and Autumn – three multi-ethnic sisters – offer a sneak peek into their thoughts about self-identification. These storytellers also share a medley of emotional experiences about how they have sometimes been viewed by others.
Finding herself on a historical tour of the Wall of Derry in Northern Ireland, Margaret discovers she is holding on to an ancestral hostility, the kind of hostility that perpetuates hatred, violence and war. Is this who she wants to be?
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.
When Nancy’s sister adopts seven-year-old Taylor, aunt and niece find kindred spirits in each other. This story explores what makes us family and when the color of one’s skin does and doesn’t matter.
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.
Laura grew up on a street with many kinds of Jews. As different as they were, they had one thing in common: no one talked about WW II or the Holocaust. Two young children find a way to memorialize the unspoken through a make believe graveyard.
In this story, Rives Collins recalls his work directing plays for children and how, through them, he learns the importance of representation on our stages and the significance of role models for our children.
John Price escapes from slavery in Kentucky and reached Oberlin, Ohio. There he sees Black shopkeepers and college students to he decides to stay. The problem is, a slaver catcher is coming for him.
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.
Franco-Americans from Quebec assimilated into the larger Anglo culture in the United States as became more “invisible.” The story that Michael tells, as Jean-Paul Boisvert, shows a couple’s resistance to that “invisibility.”
Since very early in history humans began to paint our skin with colors and symbols of who we are. Were we telling the world “look at my skin to see who I am”, or saying that since appearances can change, then true identity must lie deeper within us?
In this excerpt, Jon Spelman uses Mary Shelley’s elevated language as he moves from the Narrator’s to the Creature’s perspective to help us think about the ways we treat and classify each other. What are our basic responsibilities to one another?
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.
Elizabeth tells of her struggle to be comfortable with her own identity outside the boundaries of the racial norm. She describes the awkward struggles of adolescent love while discovering the acceptance of her own racial features.
In this story, Ada Cheng explores her experience with the U.S. citizenship ceremony and vulnerability that immigrants are subject to during the process of becoming Americans. She also her experience with a guest, an older African American man.
At an event honoring Vietnamese Americans, a young man shares his American immigrant story. The community of listeners that storytelling creates makes a new country feel like home.
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.
A transracial, non-traditional family (two white women with one biological child and one adopted child who was born in China) have dealt with many rude questions and often have not been perceived as a family.
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.
For the first time Karin moves to a small city. She is worried about fitting in but everyone seems friendly and open-minded, until she has a troubling enounter with racism. She tells her husband and three friends and gets very different responses.
During the 1950s, Gwen’s mother, like many African American parents, sent her children down south for the summer. Gwen remembers the rich experiences with her grandparents on the farm as well as painful and dangerous racist encounters.
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.
Gerry Fierst says, “religion connects us to all who have gone before and all who will come after we are gone.” As he grows older he hear the words of his ancestors and passes the tradition of the blowing of the shofar on to his children.
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.
A single girl from Eastern Europe goes to the USA to study, she faces assumptions made about green cards, marriages of convenience, and other things she was unprepared for.
Talking about World War ll was hard for Carol’s father despite his three Purple Hearts. He shares his story of anti-Semitism, his sense of Jewish identity with a stranger in Paris and how he survived the front lines by wearing “blinders.”
Friendly lunchtime religious debates with Sarah Beth’s high school band friends turned serious when her religious identity was called into question. Would she be able to lose her religion but keep her friends?
When in high school, Archy and his Thai family get into a fight about him dating a black girl. Years later, when Archy states he is gay, he finds that his mother’s racial attitudes have conveniently changed.