Let’s Talk Story: The Company We Meet, the Family We Keep

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myvy and anonymous

Who’s your family? Sometimes it’s the people we choose, and sometimes it’s those we’re born to. In the case of two Colorado State University students, these relationships are works in progress. Myvy Ngo talks about the evolution of her relationship with her parents who immigrated from Vietnam, and another discusses the familial roles different family members and friends have played at various times in her life. Listen to their conversation above, or read on for a full transcript. Continue reading “Let’s Talk Story: The Company We Meet, the Family We Keep”

How do I do an oral history?

Recently I’ve had the enormous joy of spending time with people I love, connecting and/or reconnecting.

I’ve logged hours of oral histories in the process. In some ways it comes naturally to me as a journalist, but in others it feels very foreign to do so with people so intimate to me, so I’m always looking for ways to improve or adapt my process. It’s never perfect. No two interviews go exactly the same way. I suppose the only common way to go is forward.

As I tell people what I’m up to a common response is, “I’ve always wanted to do that but wouldn’t know where to begin!”

If you find yourself saying this, here are some useful guidelines… Continue reading “How do I do an oral history?”

Reading on the Radio

I find several things especially life affirming. These include the butterfly rush from a somersault, when a curtain rises on a stage production, and when a story goes to press. Also when I get to the grocery store and find avocados or good chocolate on sale. Now I can add one more. Recording for radio! Continue reading “Reading on the Radio”

Let’s Talk Story: Our Town

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We may leave the places we’re from, but they often have lasting impacts on the people we become. Allie Hoog, a Human Development and Family Studies major, and Anna Porter, majoring in Political Science and International Studies, reflect on what it was like to grow up in small towns in New Mexico and Ohio respectively before becoming students at Colorado State University. Listen to their conversation above, or read on for the full transcript. Continue reading “Let’s Talk Story: Our Town”

Let’s Talk Story: Playing with Convention

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Two students at Colorado State University reflect on breaking and following convention. In Taylor Coulter’s case, a social work major, it came naturally with the freedom for her to explore from an early age. Until recent years, the other student found that they were performing to follow convention, putting pressure on them and their relationship with their sister. Listen to these students talk about their journeys using the media player above, or read their conversation below. Continue reading “Let’s Talk Story: Playing with Convention”

Let’s Talk Story: What’s in a name?

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Brought to you by Sara Hayden of the Silk Knots Project.

What’s in a name? A whole lot of difference. Colorado State University’s Jaysun Usher, a fourth year student studying Sociology, and a second year student find there’s a discrepancy between how they’re seen on paper and in the real world. Continue reading “Let’s Talk Story: What’s in a name?”

Let’s Talk Story

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The students made me a poster. I love it very much. ❤

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 Continue reading “Let’s Talk Story”

What are you going to write about?

  
This is is the million dollar question, the one I get asked most frequently: “What are you going to write about?”

My usual response is that I have a general idea of what the story might be about, but  rarely know in full until it’s finished and published. It’s the people I encounter and research I do that transform the story and give it its final form. 

I’m constantly on the lookout for “nuggets,” these little sound bytes, inconsistencies, or funny details that either throw my initial hunch for a loop or make me go, “Huh! This is way more interesting than what I originally had in mind.” 

Nuggets point to something richer than what I’ve initially scratched up on the surface, show me places to dig deeper that will lead to the truest, most interesting story. 

Sometimes these nuggets add a layer of texture to the story that’s already been mined. At other times they alter the story to be completely different from the one I set out to tell. 

Glynn Washington, the storyteller behind radio show Snap Judgment, articulates this beautifully. Interviewed by journalist Daniel Alarcón in the Winter 2015 issue of California magazine, Washington had this to say about circling back on interviews to revisit stories:

“When we start an interview, we have an idea of where the interview is going to go. There’s a reason we’re talking to this person. We think we might know something of the story, and we’re looking for that person to tell it to us,” Washington said. “But then there’s the surprise, where he or she just took us somewhere the interviewer was not expecting…And we’re trying to tell stories that are really true to the person’s experience…And sometimes this great storyline we had thought out, that’s just not gonna work. That’s just not what happened. But maybe something else will.”
Sara Hayden