Nancy and Robert performed in Nancy’s old hometown Chicago! We were at the 8th JustStories Storytelling event which commissions one storyteller annually to create a story around justice or racial equality – a personal story that reveals history not usually heard or learned. This year that commission went to Nancy! My story is called ‘Bittersweet’.Storyteller Sue O’Halloran and Father Derek Simons of the Society of the Divine Word co-produce and sponsor this amazing project with a brilliant webpage called Race Bridges.
“My story is about my mom. It’s a story that looks at me trying to figure out who this lady was. Was she the mean mama I grew up with? And why was she so mean? Or was it just the limited perception of a young girl, a daughter attached to the ignorant and shallow illusion of a Donna Reed or a Father Knows Best show? Guess which one!? By going through the period after my mom’s heart attack in which she completely changed to this sweet soft and funny person, I was left with ‘really, who is this person?’”
“I go through trying to figure it out by looking at our history in this country: our 1st generation came in 1850 and started the fishing industry despite the hatred and unprovoked anti-Chinese violence rampant up and down the west coast, and continues through the 2nd and 3rd generation challenging this prejudice to finally the 4th generation, my mother. And, like a healing story, a happy ending. I discover how amazing my mom was and the noble sacrifice her life was so that I could be who I am today”
“I’m a 5th generation American. My children are the 6th, and there are already 7 generations in our family. But if I am walking down the street with a friend from Australia, which one of us will be seen as the foreigner?”
And so, it is hoped by JustStories and Eth-Noh-Tec that these kinds of stories, made available to schools with a curriculum guide, will correct the errors and replace the paucity so prevalent in teaching the full history of this country.
Our performances this week took place in several locations between Chicago’s Chinatown and Evanston on the Northshore. We performed at St.Teresa’s School across from the Chinese American Museum. Afterwards we got a quick private tour of the new museum (still in repair after a devastating fire). Special thanks to Margaret Larson and the staff who helped make the Chinatown collaboration concert a wonderful turn out. They had a great turn out of 100 people- best crowd they’ve ever had for a show.
These performances were especially significant to Nancy who has deep roots here in the Chicago Chinese American community. The show became a gathering point as relatives drove in from far away to attend the premiere of this piece. Thank you Brother Ed and Sis-in-Law Rachel Wang, Cousins Roger (& Elaine) Foin, Debbie (& Gary) Alderman, Jordan and June Wong, and nieces: Michelle Cheung (and kids Hannah and Jakey) and Marcia Wang and all the other friends of the Wang Tribe in the area.
One of the events in the tour was video taping shorter versions of Asian American family history at the “SPACE” (Society for Preservation of Arts and Culture in Evanston). Hours of prep condensed into 10 minute excerpts which later will be rendered for the website of Racebridges to be used by educators in schools to advocate for racial, ethnic and religious tolerance. Kudos to Sue O’Halloran and Father Derek Simon! The storytelling community should be so proud of their work!
On a final note from Nancy: “I wish to thank all the storytellers, artists, writers, film makers and friends who’ve been a part of the this creative process: Olga Loya, Mimi Motoyoshi, Erica Lann-Clark, Nancy Gaglio, Lynn Mueller, Canyon Sam, Felicia Lowe, Ginni Stern, Anne Shimojima, Nancy Donoval, Beth Horner, Sue O’Halloran, Ann Scroggie, and Robert. And for their stories thanks to: my mom Gladys, Gramma Yokelund, and Aunt Mary”.
Check out: www.RaceBridges.net/JustStories