NEWS

NEWS

Connecting Through Story

May 6, 2019

What do high school students and senior citizens have in common? As YAMA storyteller Norah Dooley likes to say, "everyone has a story."

Norah proved this adage true last week in Barnstable, where she brought a class of high school students to a nearby senior center. Students honed their listening skills as they paired off and asked seniors about defining moments in their lives, and their performing skills as they then told some of these stories for all assembled.

One poignant story, told of a soldier who had asked his mother to walk him to the bus that would take him from his childhood home and off on his journey to serve in the Second World War. While the mother resisted at first because she did not want to cry in public, she steeled herself at his request, and he did not see her raise a handkerchief to her eyes until he stole a glance through the window as the bus rolled on.

Another story, related by Dorothy, who was celebrating her 105th birthday, recounted a tense call her mother had received on their crank-style telephone when she was a girl. A neighbor had accused Dorothy of picking a fight with her son and tearing his clothes. Nervously, Dorothy informed her mother that the accusation was false. To her surprise and relief, her mother immediately phoned back and said the all important words: "Not true." Dorothy never forgot this moment of being trusted and protected.

Listeners and tellers alike were unified in an experience of shared emotion and new understanding.

"Thank you so much, Norah!" the senior center's coordinator wrote in an email. " We are still beaming too! In our environment, we get to experience lots of memorable days but yesterday will be imprinted in our minds for a long time to come. We are so grateful to you for bringing so much wisdom and expertise to the project and for guiding the conversation so smoothly and fluidly."

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