Young People Have a Story or Two
This week, I spent time with friends; walking, talking, sharing and telling stories that have meaning in our lives and found that they have meaning for others as well.
From a story of a grandfather’s military service to stories of family health struggles to a story of siblings political stands to stories of children’s aspirations we, perhaps predictably, found common strands of our lives connected to others through stories.
I often ask students I visit to tell me stories about their progress and success in school; their friends and how they support each other; the activities that bring them joy; and their hope for the near future. You can imagine that their responses are insightful and inspiring. I find it impossible not to see the connection of their experiences with similar feelings, actions and relationships in my life.
I enjoy hearing stories and find those of our youngest citizens particularly important for me as I reflect on my current activities and determine my next steps professionally and personally.
Storytelling is certainly not new in fact my quick Google search identified more than 45 million references to “the history of storytelling.” These resources acknowledge that storytelling has been used by older generations to share information with those younger to demonstrate a point, guide their way and/or ensure they do not suffer significant challenges.
This one-way sharing of experiences and wisdom should be enhanced to a two-way relationship in which we intentionally ask youth for their stories and listen for ways they can inform and influence us.
I encourage us to engage youth in storytelling by creating formal and informal spaces and places where they feel safe and comfortable sharing their experiences. Further let’s listen for understanding and identify implications for sharing, learning and working together.
We frequently engage youth to assist us to more effectively use technology and devices can’t we also set aside time to encourage young people to share their stories and find meaning for us and them? The more we engage youth in sharing their experiences the more they will understand the value of their experiences and that at their young age they can impact their peers and those of us from different generations.