November 18, 2021
Sharing a story with others is an integral part of storytelling, and yet it takes great bravery to stand before a crowd and do so. It also requires dedication and intention.
Since joining The Story Center as Program Manager in 2019, I have had the joy of getting to know oral storytellers and writers from all around the world, particularly those who join the Storytelling Certificate Program. Many of our students are seasoned storytellers looking to hone their skills, while others are in search of skills that will help them tell their personal stories for the first time. And, of course, many others fall somewhere in between.
I am consistently surprised and delighted by the stories shared with me every day, and I cannot wait to see what storytellers choose to tell at the Storytelling Certificate Celebration on Saturday, December 4. Join us at 10:30 AM for the Oral Storytelling Certificate Celebration and again at 1:30 PM for the Written Storytelling Certificate Celebration. With over 300 students currently enrolled and 55 graduates, 2021 will feature our largest graduating class yet. Twenty-nine storytellers, which includes writers and oral storytellers, completed their requirements this year. Many are from the Kansas City metro area. Others tuned in from California, Georgia, Connecticut, and outside the United States.
“Whether by Zooming with friends or taking classes through The Story Center, I feel like I found compassionate, thoughtful, and encouraging people to converse and share with at some of the worst parts of the year. Not to mention all the fascinating talks and classes from the diverse set of literary agents, writers, editors, and teachers that The Story Center supplied. I will always think of my time with The Story Center with great fondness and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone I knew who was attracted to writing or oral storytelling for a potential career or just for fun,” said one graduate from across state lines.
Unlike last year’s class, where I had met most of the students in person pre-pandemic, many of our graduating students this year have completed the program online. I may not have met them in person, but I feel as if I have.
An unexpected yet pleasant side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is how virtual programming has fostered an environment for connectivity. It brought this cohort together despite distance, and in some cases, that distance was eventually closed.
I think of two of our 2021 graduates, Leslie A. Harris and Ric Vice, both passionate storytellers who joined the program after the pandemic began. Through the State of Stories programs, they were given the opportunity to perform in front of a live audience at the Together for ’21 Fest—and meet each other in person for the first time. Now they will be graduating together.
“I began the program prior to the pandemic, and I’ll be finishing it towards the end of the pandemic. I’m extremely grateful for The Story Center pivoting and offering online courses,” said one graduate.
It is a common story in this group. Consistently, over the past year and a half, students gave credit to The Story Center staff for converting our programs online, but I want to give our storytellers the credit for continuing to participate and grow. From the beginning of the shutdown, our storytellers were willing to jump online with us—excited, even. Knowing our storytellers were open to new opportunities and would learn with us was a delight to wake up to every day, and that feeling is what I carry with me as I head to the celebration.
This group did not just set out to share their stories; they intentionally chose to learn new technology to do so. They dedicated themselves to the craft, leaned on each other, and grew together, and so did their stories. That’s worth celebrating.
I hope you will join me,
Story Center Program Manager