Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Lifetime Warranty Gifts

Tonight is Christmas Eve and tomorrow many of us will be opening gifts.  Others of us opened our last Hanukkah gifts last night.  We’ve all occasionally stopped unwrapping to affirm to one another that the best gifts don't come in packages……health, love, etc.  

This year,  I’m very aware that I got five precious, un-box-able gifts over the months leading up to our second storytelling salon called “Foreign Correspondents: Immigrant Odysseys.”  Five people shared their personal stories with me and allowed me to help them shape 10-minute performance pieces that they gave freely to an audience at the Media Center, November 20th.

Their stories included daring escapes from oppressive armies and or poverty as well as amazing accomplishments - ranging from one septuagenarian woman’s first time in a voting booth to one man’s involvement in the first moon landing.  It was a great privilege to be let into their lives and their stories were gifts that they opened for me.  

Four of them presented their stories in the Media Center’s TV Studio.  One had to cancel because his traumatic story unleashed a terrifying wave of PTSD even 35 years later.  He allowed me to tell a story about him that included some of what he’d shared with me.  I feel so fortunate to have gotten to know these five neighbors of ours on a deeper level and I’m certain that the audience at our salon felt the same way.

If you would like to receive another gift over these holidays then I encourage you to open up one or more of the links below and immerse yourself in the stories – no gift wrap to recycle.  If you are surrounded by family and your time is completely booked then I encourage you to sit down with a relative and ask for their story. You’ll get a gift that will last your whole life.

Al Kuhn recounts the amazing trajectory of his life.....from his family's escape of Nazi Germany to a remote mountain in Bolivia...... and decades later helping the US land a man on the moon.

Liz Gulevich tells a captivating story about the empowerment of her immigrant mother during her sunset years in Palo Alto, California.

Roberto Munoz shares the details of his passage over the border from Mexico when he was 15.

Amber Stime tells how a bomb altered her life path from Ethiopia to Minnesota.

This is a story I told (with permission) about one of our storytellers who had to withdraw from the event due to the PTSD his story triggered.

The stories are part of a larger project called Made Into America featuring an archive of family stories of immigration throughout US history.  Come visit the web site and read about some of your neighbors.  You can even subscribe to the site to get new (mostly written) stories as they appear (never more than one a day).

shared by Elliot Margolies of the Media Center

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