When explaining my pursuit of Asian American stories in the Mountain West in a recent interview, I was asked, “What will happen if you don’t find a story?” And I had to smile, because at the end of the day all we are left with is the narrative out of which we make sense of our lives and the world, and that’s a story in itself.
Thursday affirmed this for me. It was the type of day that made me feel so incredibly lucky to be human and have other wonderful humans with whom to share that experience. That afternoon I had the privilege to put on an event called “Let’s Talk Story” at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. (This town and I go way back — in addition to classes at CSU, I went to junior high and high school here!)
Students and staff of the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center and GLBTQQA Resource Center came together and joined me in sharing stories about identity through conversation in front of a live audience, which were then recorded to share with you here. I just finished editing the first one. I’ll push that out in a separate post.
“I think stories can bring us closer, they can change our perspectives. They can show why people are the way they are,” CSU second-year student Allie Hoog says.
And I completely agree! Stories have this magical element that allows people from very different backgrounds to connect, and I wanted to create a space for this spark to happen.
For the name of the program, I took inspiration from “The Woman Warrior” by Maxine Hong Kingston. “Talk-story…at its most essential, is community discourse, an inherited oral narrative that incorporates family tales and genealogy, history, familiar adages, folklore, myth, heroic stories, even didactic and cautionary pronouncements that have been handed down — and embellished — by successive generations within an extended clan,” writes E.D. Huntley in “Maxine Hong Kingston: A Critical Companion.”
For this particular event, I created conversation starters that touched on some of the above and more. Participants picked them at random and took it from there.
In creating the format, I was inspired by Story Corps, The Moth, and many a happy evening I spent shooting the breeze with Club Motte in New York City. It’s very cool to be able to bring this experience to Fort Collins.
“Stories are really powerful to help other people understand more about your identities, but also I’ve found that with myself, the more I tell stories about my identities, the better I am to explore them,” third-year student Meaghan Booth said. “I think it’s pretty powerful to have the opportunity to do that.”
Do you have a story to tell? Let’s talk story. Get involved here.
– Sara Hayden