“We got it!” Monday morning, August 26, I received an excited call from Deborah Strahorn, President, Kuumba Storytellers of Georgia. She had just finished talking with the Chair of the Brimstone Applied Storytelling Award Committee and learned that our proposal was one of four to receive the national award, out of 272 applications.
Through this grant, Kuumba is joining with one of CDF’s partners, The United Sudan and South Sudan Communities Association (USASSCA) to lead a project which will showcase Clarkston, Georgia, described as “the most diverse square mile in the United States.” The Brimstone Commitee anticipates that Clarkston will serve as a laboratory for other communities seeking to use storytelling as a community building strategy and as a strategy to promote the home language.
CDF was the “connector,” a role we like to play. I introduced the leadership from USASSCA to the leadership of Kuumba, a professional storytelling association. Emmanuel Solomon, President, of USASSCA met Deborah during the Clarkston “Tell Me a Story!” literacy and language festival in May 2013. Emmanuel wrote a children’s story that he remembered from his childhood in Sudan, especially for the workshop. Deborah told several of her favorite stories to the delight of the audience. Soon after the May event, I learned about the grant opportunity, I made the “match”, and we developed the proposal together. The rest is history.
CDF will continue to support the project by providing coordination, facilitation of meetings, reaching out to current and developing new partners, documentation, and helping to identify additional resources and funding. The Clarkston Early Learning Network, facilitated by CDF, will serve as the advisory committee to the project.
The Sudan & African American Oral Storytelling Project seeks to preserve Sudanese oral children’s stories, culture and values and to promote the use of stories in the home language to enhance children’s literacy and language development. Partners will engage and train Sudanese teens and adults to collect and compile the oral stories. The Sudanese storytellers will attended a “Storytelling 101” conducted by Kuumba, practice the stories and get feedback from the community, and share them at events throughout Clarkston. Kuumba members will benefit by learning about the history and culture of Sudan and South Sudan, and they will present the stories at festivals, libraries, and other venues around the state.
The work has begun. USASSCA team has met several times to talk about the criteria for selecting the stories. Criteria include (a) oral children’s stories not previously written; (b) children’s stories from Sudan and South Sudan; (c) children’s stories with a moral. The Kuumba group attended the Clarkston Library’s “Children’s Stories from Around the World” September 21 and they are looking forward to the workshop on Sudanese history and culture.
The award will hopefully serve as “glue” to attract additional resources so that we can collect and translate more stories and engage more families in learning how to tell the stories in their home language. We envision an exciting journey, getting to know one another as we collect, write, and tell the children’s stories.
We welcome your involvement. Please let us know if you are interested in the project and/or in children’s storytelling.