Saturday, January 13, 2018

Stories Connect Us All

If you have been around the storytelling world for any time at all, you have heard the expression, “Stories connect us all.” The longer you are around this world, you will find more and more proofs of that.  Many times, the connection is through the message or the theme of the stories wherein we hear notes of life from someone’s story that resonate with the songs inside us.

Sometimes, the connection is the actual bringing people together who would never have a chance to meet had it not been for a story event.

About five years ago, I “stepped through the looking glass” and entered into the magical and wonderful world of storytelling. Because of that, I have had some incredible experiences that have encouraged me, validated me, and, as we say down South, have blessed my heart.

The latest confirmation was just before Christmas. My husband and I have lived in small-town America, Madison, Florida for about nine years now, and we love it. During the past four years I began working with the local schools to see if their students could start telling stories with us. Each year, more schools get on board and more students are writing and telling stories.

Students are selected to tell their stories at our Madison County Florida Storytelling Tellabration!TM each year, and trust me, they are the stars of our stage. The townspeople love this part of our event and enthusiastically support and encourage all the student tellers.

Some of our students have even won a Virginia Rivers Youth Storytelling Scholarship which allows them to tell their story on the main stage at the FSA Festival. What a thrill for all of us involved in this small-town effort to promote storytelling!

This past Tellabration!TM (held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year) we had more student tellers than ever, and they were remarkable. I have the privilege of working with them at their schools, coaching them and helping them get ready for the big day. Many of them, some as young as ten years old, have never told a story on a stage like that to hundreds of people, and they were brave and determined, and they were a success.

Now, for the connecting part -- fast forward to December of last year when our little town had its Mayberry-type Christmas event (Light Up Madison) in downtown Madison. It is one of the biggest events of the year with families coming from all over the region to participate in the events. I was there volunteering at a booth, when suddenly, I felt two little arms wrap around me. I turned to see the smiling face of one of our younger tellers. Now you and I both know that being loved by a child is a joy, and in my book, an honor. This precious girl was so excited to see me. Please trust me, it wasn’t because it was me. It was because she and I connected through her telling. Were it not for this storytelling movement in Madison, I doubt that I would have ever had the opportunity and the privilege of meeting her and her family.  

What a thrill for me that stories, storytelling, did literally connect me to this precious child and her family. So, perhaps you too would want to find some connections in your storytelling world by helping some young people tell stories. I promise you, the connection will be priceless.

To learn more about opportunities for young tellers, see the FSA website. YOUTHFUL VOICES

Wanda Violet