Stories inside a Story, Storyteller Secrets, UPDATE

Stories that Entertain & Educate

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As a storyteller, I enjoy reading and hearing stories from other authors.  Daniel Lieske’s “The Journey Begins” is one of those authors who is both a storyteller and illustrator.  Great combination.  If you click on the image above you will be transported to an enjoyable journey through his imagination and story development.

pvjx8cnrnnktcuxfppmkThis past weekend, I saw Spike Lee’s production of “BLACKkKLANSMAN.”  Based on a true story about an African-American police officer who is able to infiltrate the local Colorado KKK with the help of a white Jewish officer.  The events took place almost 40 years ago, in a time I well remembered.  The film’s ending centers on the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.  It ends with footage of the white supremacist, David Duke and  statements made by President Trump.  The connection is made and I wonder if more of these stories aren’t going to pop up as we move into the next Presidential election.  What do you think?

flowerBack in 1961, my elementary school friend, Darryl Yee, was hired into an all Asian cast movie called, “The Flower Drum Song.”  The movie centered on the cultural issues between Chinese parents born in China and their children born in the United States.  The movie setting was San Francisco.  Now, 57 years later, the newest all Asian cast movie, “Crazy Rich Asian,” has also had success on the big screen.  The theme is similar with a similar theme of Chinese born in the United States vs those born in China.  Traditions and cultural changes.    But this is a similar theme for any ethnicity coming from the East, West, or South.  The real issues in these stories are based on tradition in how another culture works.  thediplomat-mv5bmtyxndmyotaxn15bml5banbnxkftztgwmdg1odyzntm._v1_-386x572

  For example, both leading women, in both movies, wear red and have Chinese fans as part of their identification.  Is this a stereotype,  tradition, or identification of a culture?  The real concern in both of these movies focused on whether the next generation had lost their mother tongue and traditions in favor of adopting their new culture fully.  In both movies, there is a cannibalizing of both the old and new culture to create a new one.  While an older generation will say it has been watered down, the new generation feels it has taken the best from both worlds.

Stories have the power the change peoples thoughts, prejudices and stereotypes.  They have the power to raise up a righteous causes or  dictators.  Stories have influenced our culture, our understanding, and even how we make our decisions.  Stories can be as small as a 30 second commercial to a 3-hour blockbuster.  Stories are always thought as a form of entertainment, but good stories educate too!  What stories have had influence in your life?

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To Change Reality–Change the Story P2

walt-disney-treasures-tomorrowland-disney-in-space-and-beyond--20040524043358986Back in 1994, I thought it would be great if I could do science projects with schools across the nation.  At that time, I had an account with AOL and my username was OceanFront.  I had memories of the space station created by Walt Disney back in 1955 and shown on his Disney television show, and imagined a similar virtual space station where students and teachers would be welcomed aboard to conduct experiments in space.

aol4I worked with AOL in developing the Electronic Schoolhouse to help launch an idea I developed called, “Space Island.”  I used the Internet to invite schools in the United States to partner with the idea to cross-train and learn from each other.  Soon, schools from around the world were contacting me to join our Space Island’s story.

 

Projects varied around the world.  For example, students in Kuwait discussed how water would be made in space, since water was an important necessity in their desert country.  Students in Nebraska wrote, “Using this water maybe we could raise corn in hydroponic labs.”  Students from Cambodia said, “While corn is a good crop, we think rice would have more benefits.”

Back in the 1980’s and 90’s, universities were prime online connectors that linked to other universities and schools that were connected to them.  The Universities of Helsinki and Amsterdam were key to spreading the Space Island program globally.  University students from Helsinki noted that with so many languages aboard our virtual space station they would work on a language translator.  Their initial project translated Spanish, English and Finnish into the present tense.  Online translators, like “Babelfish”, started their first explorations at this point.  Today, you can find ‘Babelfish.com’ now translates about 75 languages.

Clinton_and_jiangBack in the late 1990’s, the United States had boycotted China, but online, my program reached a teacher in Beijing, China.  Not able to directly contact me, her request traveled to Helsinki, then to Amsterdam then to me.  I was an educator not a politician, but the red lights went off when China became part of the program.  This caused an investigation.

Two State Senators came to my school to find out what my connection with China was. I was working with JPL and NASA and there was probably concern about Space technology getting passed around.

While that was going on a reporter from the Los Angeles Times Newspaper started his investigation on the number of participants in the Space Island online program.  Working with AOL, the number of participants was confirmed to have reached globally 2.3 million students and teachers in forty nations.  In short–It went Viral.

In 1996, the United States Congress placed my Space Island Program into the Library of Congress as a historical event.  It was considered the first long distant educational program ever developed.  Both the State of California and NASA also gave recognition.  Today, all online educational programs are a continuation of the story.  When I look back, I realize good stories can influence and change lives globally.