As a university instructor, it’s nice to switch things up and work with kids in elementary school. In Moose Jaw, I had a wonderful time getting to know a group of enthusiastic Grade 6 and 7 students at King George School.
One of my favourite sayings is “the shortest distance between two people is a story” and it proved to be true, yet again, as we got to know one another through our stories. I stood back and watched as kids discovered details about their classmates’ lives and saw one another from new perspectives. They demonstrated empathy and were able to recognize similarities in their shared experiences.
One girl, new to the school, spent some time in a foster home and did her story on singing as her hobby, which she says has helped her through tough times. She narrates, “When I’m singing, I feel something that I’ve never felt before… Even though I have really low self-esteem, my voice has always been something I love about myself.” Another girl did her story on moving to Canada from Ireland and included the detail of how funny she thought the name Moose Jaw was when she and her family first heard it. One boy did his story on building a garden in his backyard with his mother. He discovered his love for assembling wooden garden beds and growing vegetables. There were stories about BFFs, siblings and parents.
I tell the students in my workshops that good non-fiction stories almost always touch on a universal experience — one that the listener can relate to, or that incites the listener to look at their own experiences differently. These stories did just that.