Telling stories is such a core aspect of our humanity. Visual, oral, and written accounts have been passed down for centuries. History is made and rewritten through the telling of stories. For some, telling stories is therapeutic and healing or provides a human connection. For others, storytelling is for entertainment and joy. And yet, for so many it is simply a chance to connect and finally be heard. For me, storytelling is about all of those things and more wrapped up in that twelve letter word. Stories have always been a huge part of my history dating back to the first time I can remember my mother reading me a bedtime story. It was a nightly ritual in my household for her to lull me to sleep with Golden Book stories, Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, and later full-length novels. I loved every book and story that unraveled at each turn of the page. These stories were my entertainment, the keystone to developing my vast imagination, and the connection that made me and my mother very close.
As a teenager, both reading and writing stories became my home away from home. Growing up poor there were few opportunities to explore beyond the boundaries of my rural, Pennsylvania hometown. Stories gave me the chance to be someone else and travel to real and fictional places of all types. Later, telling my story of trial and triumph growing up with a lot of odds against me helped to shape my future. Scholarship applications always wanted to know my background, my interests, and my aspirations, and I was happy to oblige. Before too long I had written myself into enough scholarships to pay my way into an out of state school for four years – a dream that would never have come true without the scholarships. Finally, I was able to live out some of my fantasies as a kid about traveling to far off places, and it was all thanks to the story writing abilities that I had honed as a kid.
Hard times would later hit me in my college years, and I traveled to a dark place in my mind for a few years. Talking about my feelings was never easy, and living so far from home and the only people I felt comfortable talking to forced me to keep a tight lid on all of the stress I was experiencing. Sometime throughout all of the darkness I stumbled upon a little bit of light when a professor of mine suggested I start keeping a journal again. At this point in my life, my storytelling style became more autobiographical. I wrote, rewrote, reflected, and analyzed my writing as a way of getting out my feelings. It was my therapy. To this day, my journal is the only one that knows the specifics of my dark days, and telling my story was the only thing that gave me hope and healing.
Finally, fast forward to my digital storytelling class in graduate school. My passion for writing became a form of entertainment and joy again in my exploration of my focal theme of zombies. I expected to have fun writing about post-apocalyptic stories, but I didn’t expect to have the opportunity to learn so much about the deeper reasons for why telling these and other stories were so important to me. In my readings and writings I discovered the psychological importance of sharing personal stories. Brain anatomy and human connection make this process intensely important. Human development and learning is closely supported by the use of storytelling. This research helped me to understand my constant drive for needing to share my tales, and, though this class is coming to a close, I believe that my journey through storytelling is far from over.
Below is my final portfolio for Learning with Digital Storytelling. Check out the question mark for how to navigate the ThingLinK.