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Jonatha Wright – Cross Cultural Storytelling

Jonatha Wright speaks about cross cultural storytelling.

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Cross Cultural Storytelling.

Jonatha Wright writes…
Probably we are all aware of the cultural confusions and misconceptions that become evident daily in this world of instant updates. It has become the stuff of novels, movies and the nightly news. These errors in sensitivity can hurt feelings, and cause outright insults and rage in the offended.

*How can we avoid some of these mistakes?

As storytellers, we often aim high at bridging these cultural gaps with an appropriate and well-told story. This is a worthy goal and an attainable one. However, we must do our homework so we can tell with authority and in a culturally sensitive manner.

*How can we truly use stories to build cultural bridges?

Yes, we can leave the foreign story to “the other.” This may be best when storytellers from other cultures are available to us. We do have access to native Americans and their stories. We do have many African American storytellers in our midst.

*Should we tell stories from available cultures if these are not our own cultures?

But what about lesser known cultures, whose tellers are not nearby, or may not feel comfortable telling in our language? Often we want to understand these cultures through story also, and spread the beauty of these cultures and their stories in our performances.

*Should we tell stories from unavailable cultures if these are not our own cultures?

If we should become involved in telling stories from cultures other than our own,
Cross-cultural Storytelling, it is important–even critical, to understand certain cultural differences that may exist. For example:

What was/is a typical day in this culture?
What are proper forms of greeting?
How do they express body language?
What are the societal roles?
What are the gender roles?
How are proper nouns pronounced?
Do I know some history of this culture? How new or ancient is it?

How can I become informed about this culture?

We discussed these questions and others in our conference telephone session at 7 PM EST April 17th – 2007. To Listen to the call press the play button on the top of the post.

Jonatha Wright – Storyteller

1 Comment

  • By Mary Beth Spann, May 29, 2007 @ 3:11 pm

    In my experience as a teacher, one of the magical powers of storytelling as a teaching tool is that it transcends culture. A story may contain “foreign” references, but if told well, the connectivity factor always transcends the differences; ultimately a good story demonstrates how. although we may appear different on the outside, we are all basically alike on the inside.

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