Friday, November 2, 2007

On NYC sights and sounds: Having their say

What I love about serendipity is that it affords me a wonderful surprise that makes me feel connected to the world. It helps me begin to see the rhyme and reason that threads through one day's activities to the next. On Tuesday evening, I was late getting back from work and I wasn't able to get down to the Chelsea Barnes and Noble to see one of my favorite authors, Amy Bloom.

I needed to get a book for work so I just walked down to my neighborhood B&N. I was poking around and stumbled upon another event happening - this one for StoryCorps. I had heard one of their stories on This American Life the previous Friday on NPR. The story was moving, so I decided to stick around and see what this event was about.

I wish I could do justice to the personal stories that were shared - a NYC bus driver who helped a lone elderly woman find the restaurant her friends were at. It turned out that that woman had just been diagnosed with cancer and she was incredibly appreciative of this bus driver's kind efforts. A WWII vet and his grandson talked about the battle that their loved one faced with Alzheimer's. A woman talked about how she met her husband; they were one of the first StoryCorps stories recorded, and the husband had just passed away from pancreatic cancer.

StoryCorps's mission is very simple: record the quintessential stories of everyday American people and create an archive of the stories to be accessed by future generations. They record these stories through two NYC locations, and a few mobile units around the country. It's a 40-minute unscripted interview between two people who know one another well and usually revolves around the big questions in life. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to sign up. At the end of the session, a CD is given to the participants, and one goes to the Library of Congress if the interviewees would like to have that happen. To date, 15,000 stories have been recorded.

You have to hear these stories for yourself - they will change your life. They'll make you a kinder person. They'll make you appreciative of the little sweet moments in life in a way that you couldn't before hearing the stories. Telling our stories, and sharing them, may be the most important work we ever do.

You can listen to a sampling of the stories and sign up for an interview slot at StoryCorps's website: Check it out!

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