A very eventful month.
The work this month started with Singapore, I had to train 70 kids of grade 4 and 5 from Yengzheng primary school and St. Gabriels on storytelling techniques in Tamil language. Noisy boys and girls gathered in the afternoon to tell stories.
Some thought it was meant for smaller children and why us, but when I did my first story, jaws dropped, backs straightened and eagerness to learn was seen in those curious eyes.
A group of boys (obviously the older ones) tried to distract and get distracted. The teacher’s were worried how it would work, simple; they were made the master tellers to take care of the younger ones. Responsibility made them change their attitude. They also had to prove they were the best and of course turned out to be so!
The girls were at their best behaviour, the urge to reach the target, the grand finish, take home all the prizes, hoarded their heads and of course they had the best focus!!!!
The challenge: 70 kids to be trained in 4 hours to make their presentation the following day. I tried to expose them to different techniques of telling the story supplying them with the required tools. I felt adrenaline rushing through my body, it is not going to be easy but certainly crucial for it was my first gig after joining hands with a Singapore based company AKTCLUB, and important for them as this was a sample they gave for the other schools to review and use the services for the next academic year.
They were divided into groups of 6/7 and they chose a story that they worked on and presented. Of course children being children, cooperation and team work was not happening. fire fights on who is right/ wrong flung around, Some groups worked in perfect harmony, it was a sight to watch, Absolutely meticulous, systematic, composed, steady in what they did. But the challenge was not with them because the aim of the training was to get everyone to participate, especially the ones who certainly had the skill and talent but their attitude was clouding it up.
Alas! It was time for presentations and all performed, all tried their best, some excelled, some were moderate, and some tried hard. Success, I got all the kids to utter at least a line or two. Their individual talent came to the fore but was not at its optimum best as they were pulled down by the less talented.
Decision taken at the end of the day: NO GROUP PRESENTATION ONLY INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATION. Each child was asked to work on their best tale to present and individual prizes were promised. The day finished with the recap of the lesson.
The next day, all the children at their best were there. We had a celebrity Mr. Rajesh, a very popular TV star and theatre star to assess their talent. Boy, it sure was difficult; each one had given their best. The 10 prizes were awarded to the best tellers though their margin was very minimum. All were happy, I too was, as I had now planted the seed of storytelling and was sure that one day or the other they will be of help!!!The tellers, teachers, organisers and Trainer, all went home happy……..
Back home…..ah…… stretch a bit…take a breathe…..hello……Hippo campus calling…………
Two days of fun and frolic, Hippo campus had inaugurated their library and children’s center with the collaboration of the Goethe institute! Grand gala opening, a march with hoo, the hippo campus’ mascot, with children parents, organizers was a lovely experience. The library was formally opened…..WOW….a must place for all kids. Books of all genre, furniture, and ambiance ….perfect for it had everything a kid would dream to have.
Magic show, juggling, drama, songs and storytelling was there throughout the days and the response was great….
The second school shows were held and as always the response was marvelous, it was not only for storytelling but for other activities that enriched their academics. A very fun, fulfilled two days…..
The book week at the American international school surprises me a lovely poster that I received online that warned me, “Hey, don’t feel too relaxed you have 7sessions of storytelling at the American school on ASIAN TALES!!!”Oh yeah, a multicultural set up, kids from around the globe, my head started to spin…..
It was an early start.8.30am. Lil lil ones marched in….I said in a child’s voice hellloooo with different emotions…that was it… Giggling giggling and giggling. No stop to it until 3.30pm. Perfect day, a lot of cheer, laughter, cries, along with many of them trying to show off to the new comers that they knew me: Hey, that is Aunty Jeeva…..She is so funnnnnnnnyyyyyyyyy , hahahahahaha…..
What more does a storyteller want other than this! I felt I had won the most coveted award. Children in my opinion are the best judges. I was also delighted immensely as I had tapped and woken up the child within every adult; for we have all at this tech-age have killed the child within us!!!!
I realised you should be so blessed to be a storyteller; if you could bring even the slightest smile on one child’s face you have done your job well. Satisfied returned home to find plies of clothes pressed and stacked as if to remind me…….PINKS…….pack up……
The festival was for just a day but I traveled for 4 out of 5 days of my tour. My fellow teller NGKK, I call him my Chinese brother took such care and almost managed my tour. That one day…..memorable as usual….Fellow tellers Roger Jenkins, Kiran Shah, Cassandra wye, Mamman Sham, were there….Storytellers never get tired off meeting up, again, again and again….New tellers were there too, A child storyteller amazed one with her brilliant storytelling style combining story, dance and music……woooooooooo……A treat to every participant there……God bless….
Not to miss the others always at best…..Cassandra’s vibrant high energy story, Roger’s participation stories, Ngkk’s Chinese storytelling (I realised when a story is well said, language is no barrier!) Kiran Shah’s storytelling ease with aids ,all taught me lessons even the best universities in the world cannot teach. My maximum satisfaction was derived when I told stories to kids in Tamil! What joy……Highlight, I had Cassandra jumping and singing the Tamil songs aloud with the kids, proving once again storytelling has no language barriers.
Returned home, just enough time to wash my clothes and pack for the Bookaroo festival in Delhi …….. Delhi in November…..cold, smog, fog…..? Landed well with a pleasant weather.
First day….visit to Delhi Tamil school, thoroughly enjoyed the experience. They had never ever heard stories and songs in Tamil before, strange but true. They lived every moment and so did I. Sharing is certainly the greatest joy…..I saw it double triple through stories.
The next day, one of the most popular school Sardar patel that gives importance to Indian values. I felt very wanted as The principal told me “We wanted an Indian teller to tell Indian Tales and we are happy to have you. She was not very sure of joining us until I sang my inaugural song and she said “I’m not going to miss it, My work…I’ll stay back and finish, She sounded like a little girl and I knew that the school did respect story and storytelling.
A huge auditorium with grades 5 to 8.As all the kids of this age feel….storytelling kids stuff …bahhhh… A team mate of Pratham books who had sponsored the Bookaroo in the city shows introduced me asked them if storytelling was required in this tech-age and prompt came the answer “NOOOOOOOO” she turned around and asked me “What do you say?” I bellowed my loudest……YEEEEESSSSSSSS”
Anyway we left at it and the next 45 minutes was rap attention not an eye winked, not a mouth closed. Absolute co-operation……interaction wherever and whenever required…be it a Tamil song, a Bengali song or a rhythm all was well received and appreciated. End of the session I asked them “Do you think storytelling is important at this tech-age?”Prompt came the answer from the entire lot present there “YEEEEEEESSSSSSS”, I returned happy at the power of storytelling….Trust your story and they will bring you honours!!!!
Next day! British International school…..Another multi cultural, international group, challenge….Some spoke very little English….Does that stop the storyteller…..nahhhhh……Super duper hit……..Like the snake dances to the tune of the music……so did all the kids…..every instant reminding me “Hello, it is not your telling but the power of story and storytelling” I humbly bowed to the power of the skill….Not but least….at the end of the session a lil boy asks me “Did you then visit the American international school in Chennai last year? I said yes! and even last week…He gleamed….I know you, you were there last year, I met you and you did such and such story……Tears rolled down my eyes……for a good storyteller is remembered not by the name but by the story she or he says…!It is so true…
Day of the Festival, addressed teenagers at a theatre festival at the British international school, A very different experience…..children from Singapore, Dubai, Thailand, USA, UK and Malaysia were there. How will they take to it? My head was thinking quickly on what would work…..Decided to travel around the world with stories. Being adults they were not as spontaneous as lil kids in interacting…..but rapped attention, almost passive face, fully focused, in my head am I boring? Thoughts were haunting me…. at the close of my presentation…… they cheered so loud that I thought I will soon have the roof on my head. Truly an over whelming response.
At the Festival….. Two days packed with audience, repeat audience, repeat stories, repeat autograph signing…..unbelievable I had parents who had brought their parents to meet me. Some of them visited and attended all my sessions, they brought more and more friends….It was a great experience to see all venues packed with kids learning, singing, acting, writing, reading, doodling all over with the best resources from around the world. How I wish we had something like this in our days….truly kids are very lucky to have such festivals.
My last performance had over 500 people children to old people tell, sing and dance with me the stories…….All said in unison “We love you” Thank you stories for introducing me to this world!!!!