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Wednesday Wisdom: Shared Experience Through Story

Since I was a child, my grandparents always instilled the importance of storytelling in me. My grandfather taught me lessons of hard work and sacrifice by retelling the stories of his childhood, which was mostly him taking care of his four younger siblings in the Philippines. My grandmother taught me the importance of family and loyalty by telling me stories of how my uncles and aunts helped her and my grandfather move to the United States. Even though I will never truly know their experiences, they have made it a point to try their best and share it with me. The impact of their stories has shaped my values and has inspired me to take a career path that recognizes the importance of storytelling.

Wednesday Wisdom: Shared Experience Through Story

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Inspired by StoryCorps, I wanted to show my appreciation for my grandparents' stories by recording and preserving them for future generations to hear. Rather than being the interviewer, I had my grandparents ask each other questions ranging from how they first met to how they felt immigrating to the United States. The process started out uncomfortable but with each question, they started telling more elaborate and detailed stories. Some were stories I had heard my entire childhood but this time were told more in depth and some were stories I had never heard before. The entire interview ended up lasting almost an hour long and turned into more of a conversation of my grandparents reminiscing on their life together.

After the interview was over, my grandparents told me how at first they were reluctant about the entire thing since they were not used to being interivewed, but overall they loved reflecting on important shared memories with one another — this was an experience they would always cherish and if it wasn't for the interviewing process, it would not have happened. 

Since their interview, some of my other relatives and I have begun doing this same process with other seniors in our family — we have two people interview each other about memories they experienced together. They always start off awkward, but every time, we learn more about our family history and our relatives interviewed/interviewing are always surprised by how pleasant the experience is. By telling their stories, they are able to create and share a new moment with one another. By doing all of these interviews not only was I reminded that storytelling is a way to learn and give thanks, I also learned that storytelling can be a way to create new memories.