Mennie Ruth, one of the storytellers , shares her day.
Christmas was just a few days away when we headed to Tanauan, Batangas, for a storytelling gathering with the scholars of Sambat Trust in Sambat Elementary School. Heading there early Saturday morning was truly a breath of fresh air, especially from the havoc we were all experiencing in the Metro at the height of the holiday season. The warmth of the morning sun brought a great sense of comfort as the gush of cold air from the mountains seethed through the jeepney windows. I didn’t have any expectations for the day, other than wanting to be in the company of children and have fun sharing stories with them.
As we settled, we were introduced to each of the scholars by getting their names, year levels, and their favorite subject in school. While most of them were already in high school, we were more impressed on what their favorite subjects were; most of them were fond of math and science- which were amazing to hear. A few minutes passed when the rest of the storytellers finally arrived.
The next activity was “the boat is sinking” game that then determined how the scholars and storytellers would be grouped and breakaway for the storytelling session that would immediately follow. I was grouped with Jolly Ann and Mikee, who were both high school students. Having them was like a providence since I am more accustomed to interacting with high school students, and the books I was able to bring were more suitable to their age. As I read to them the two books of Shel Silverstein, “The Missing Piece” and “The Missing Piece Meets The Big O”, I couldn’t help but be enthralled on how Jolly Ann and Mikee opened up and identified actual moments in their lives, which they could relate to whatever was happening to the main characters of the two books. I felt like their elder sister as they let their guards down and shared their stories to me in the same way that I shared some of my personal endeavors to them, relating to the process of self-discovery, acceptance, and building relationships.
Indeed, we could say that storytelling is all about empathy. More importantly, it is about giving hope and room for personal discovery. Any school librarian or literacy advocate would agree, when we say, that storytelling is an act of service that speaks the language of the heart. Storytelling allows us to feel and grasp life; to give love without any condition and feel tremendously loved in return. We also learn to humble ourselves by looking through the eyes of children so eager to listen, as they are taken to near and far off places while they relate to each protagonist and antagonist of the story.