A week ago I had the sincere pleasure to sit down and partake in a Storycatchers session with participants of the Appleton Public Library's Refugee and Immigrant Service and Education (RISE) program. Believing firmly that stories can have the power to transcend cultures and tie us together as a community, I came with only one question:
Does anyone have a story they would like to tell?
I settled in for the usual awkward few seconds when everyone is trying to figure out who will share, if the space is safe, perhaps what they possibly would want to share...then inevitably one brave souls gets up and starts telling their story. One by one participants shot up out of their seats as soon as the story before them was finished and amid the chatter of children coloring in the corner, tugging at the pant legs of the adults in the circle and enjoying the homemade egg rolls brought in especially for them, and through the patient interpreters who kept up with all the tellers, stories started to tumble out.
The power of these stories cannot be understated. The trials, heartbreak and devastation that some of these participants have lived through was staggering. And yet, as they completed their tales they all spoke of gratitude and radiated an undeniable hope. I am so looking forward to sharing in some form snippets of the stories that we captured last Monday night, and of finding more ways to amplify the voices of our refugee and immigrant community members. We have so much to learn from my new friends who welcomed me so well into their group, and into their stories. Stay tuned...