Monday, November 30, 2009

Recorded stories and live stories

Here are some stories told on WRPI radio earlier this year:

The Angel's Wings told by Adah

Joha and the Pot told by Toma

The Cracked Pot told by Emily

Mondebaba told by Ritam

Ramadan, a personal story told by Khalafalla

You can hear more stories at

Children at the Well --
Interfaith Youth Storytelling

Sunday, December 13th, 2009, 2 pm

First Unitarian Society of Schenectady, 1221 Wendell Ave, Schenectady, NY

All Welcome- Family, Friends, and Community!

To be followed by an interfaith mixer and home-baked goodies

Donations to benefit our youth program

For further information contact Gert Johnson: 374-0637 or

Thursday, November 19, 2009

CATW: "Global Citizens"!

Complete with fingerprints (probably mine!) here is our sparkling new Global Citizenship Award for Community Outreach that Children at the Well received last night from the International Center of the Capital Region

Khalafalla Osman was on hand to help me accept the award on behalf of all of us. Knowing that dinner was delayed, and being the gentleman that he is, Khalafalla kept his remarks brief. Chaos reigned just a bit because the program was going too long, but Alex Whisenhunt got to tell her story *before* dinner was served. Alex was cool as a cucumber and charmed us with her original tale. Gert Johnson and Mary Murphy were there as well, giving us moral support
(and the occasional "hairy eyeball"! :-).

In his talk, ICCR President Michael Gulotty spoke of a recent visitor with the international leadership program, Mr. Mohammad Mahroof, a London police officer who is active in community organizations and works closely with those that engage at-risk Muslim youth to promote positive behavior and community involvement. By invitation of the International Center, CATW had met with Mr. Mahroof last June. The youth tellers told stories, and then they and parents in attendance had time to answer questions from Mr. Mahroof. Our visitor was so taken with our work that he is now instituting a similar storytelling program in London, for these at-risk students! We were thrilled to hear this- it was news to us!

We were presented with a certificate from Senator Neil Breslin, another honoree in attendance. We were generally celebrated and sought after! Not to mention well fed by the fare from Yono's (Indonesian) Restaurant. The evening was quite an experience for us all, and we hope to build on this success by continuing to make connections with people in our community and internationally, as well, with the help of the International Center.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Letter to tellers from Marni after a great rehearsal with members of the Story Circle of the Capital Region as audience at the Colonie Town Library:

Bravo to you brave storytellers for coming out to strut your stuff before the local story circle. I am bursting with pride.

You are working so hard on your tales, to make your characters clear and unique. You are dealing with EMOTIONS in your tales that will move us, the listeners, to feel our emotions. This is NO SMALL TASK! Thank you for coming out to tell and to learn even more.

After tonight I can feel the emotions in a king who has no heir and wants to find THE right child to come and begin to learn to help him rule.I can feel a shy and discouraged boy AMAZED that HE of all people could be CHOSEN!!!! And perhaps a little in awe of what his simple honesty has brought into his future and even to the future of the people he will rule.

I see a girl who is shy too, but kind, wanting to bring a gift to the Christ Child and amazed that she hears his instructions and witnesses (and hears) a breathtaking sound from the bird she dared to try to heal.

I see a strong and loving teacher affect a boy (who has a little bit of arrogance now that he is top dog in his school). She changes him as does his friendships, those who judge him, and especially his experience of wanting to be a winner, but fearing being a loser. In this end, it is not so much a story of HIM as of pride in his community and the fact that he has represented it well.

I see a young archer brothers wanting to learn, but something gets in their way – except for ONE brother who is both talented, a good student, and perhaps somehow DESTINED to be the greatest archer of his kingdom. And we all come away wanting to FOCUS and CONCENTRATE more in our lives.

And I see a greedy and hardened old rich man transformed first by the hardship of no water and then softened even more by the plight of a poor thristy dog who somehow breaks his hardened heart and teaches him a little generosity.

One woman said as she was leaving – WOW they are so good!!! I have a conflict on 12/13 but I’m going to go try and rearrange my life so I can hear them tell again.
Well done!

OH! And Best of luck, tomorrow night, Khalafalla, as you accept the award for CAW and speak proudly on our behalf. You will be the top of the heap that night. Prep your words, calm your heart, and claim that spotlight as if Sr. Sharifa herself were looking on. And thanks for doing so on behalf of us all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

CATW goes to Tellabration

What fun we had yesterday at Tellabration '09

at Proctor's GE Theatre, Schenectady!

Thanks for inviting us! It was a blast!

So many great stories!

Thanks for the photos, Leo!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Busy week coming's wonderful!!

Just reflecting on how busy our CATW calendar is right now, and what a blessing it all is!

While we continue to get ready for our December 13th performance, all these other things have popped up:

This Sunday, all of our tellers and staff have been invited to attend the annual Tellabration as honored guests of the Story Circle of the Capital District!

Monday, two of our tellers will be involved in taping a show for Channel 16, Community Access Television...telling stories on TV!

Tuesday, the Story Circle has again invited our tellers to rehearse stories before their monthly meeting at the Colonie Town Library. They were a wonderful rehearsal audience last year- patient, supportive...they really gave each teller a boost!

On Wednesday, Gert, Mary and I, with Khalafalla and Alex, will attend the Global Citizenship Award Dinner of the International Center of the Capital honorees!! We are being recognized as Global Citizens!! How about that??

What a wonderful week for Children at the Well!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

As many of you know, Adah and I recently attended and participated in the amazing Interfaith Youth Core's Conference at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL- a small town/suburb just north of Chicago alongside Lake Michigan. I represented Children at the Well in a panel discussion about interfaith programs designed for young people in middle school and/or high school.

We were among more than 650 people of every conceivable faith who came from all parts of the world. Many were college age, and a few were high schoolers. 51 young people were Scholars who had been awarded a full scholarship to come to the conference and learn together about becoming interfaith leaders.

Conference workshops were offered on a variety of philosophical, practical, and inspirational topics, such as:
"Listen Up! Building a Better World with Web-Based Video"
"Tools for Dialogue: New Approaches to Interfaith Education"
"From Obama's Cairo Speech to Action: A Discussion of Interfaith Initiatives in the Obama Administration"
"Interfaith Leadership for International Religious Freedom"
...and that was just a few of the offerings the first day!

There were 2 or 3 major keynote events each day with very influential and inspirational speakers. Eboo Patel, the head of Interfaith Youth Core, held a "conversation" with Reverend
Jim Wallis, a nationally known Evangelical theologian and author. There were White House staffers, the heads of national religious organizations, and on and on. You would think these talks might be dry and put you to sleep. Nothing could be further from the reality of it- one talk was better than the next, and kept the audience enthralled.
Many of signed up to do a service activity at the tail end of the conference. I spent an afternoon in the kitchen of a homeless shelter in Evanston (see photo above), learning about how the shelter serves people, baking pumpkin muffins and cookies, and cleaning out a fridge. All while having great conversations with my fellow workers- who included a young Muslim youth worker/college student from London, a Muslim theologian from Holland, an Orthodox rabbinic student from Los Angeles, a Unitarian Universalist seminarian from Florida and a Catholic college student studying interfaith and international affairs.
We left Evanston with full hearts and hope for the future of the world.
Here is a link to an IFYC conference follow up: