Week 7: The Importance of Storytelling

Throughout my time interviewing Cristo Rey community members for my oral history project, I am reminded of the power of storytelling. These interviews are mainly an hour of teachers, administrators, and board members sharing their authentic stories about Cristo Rey. I have questions prepared in case there is ever a lull or we need to refocus our conversation, but the captivating stories the interviewees share usually end up guiding our entire interview.

During a recent interview with Tom McAuliffe–the first ever Chair of the Board at Cristo Rey–we started talking about how special and powerful storytelling can be. Both of us shared our love for StoryCorps (which is currently stopped in Columbus right now!), and Tom also mentioned growing up with an impactful storytelling radio host named Studs Terkel to finding beauty in the stories told during A Prairie Home Companion. Radio shows like these allow listeners to dive into the lives of everyday people and experience the same joy, grief, pride, or whatever emotion the storyteller expresses. Both the listener and the speaker are able to connect and share a special moment, no matter how different their lives and experiences may be.

Tom’s comments on the power of storytelling were in the back of my mind during every interview this week, especially during two powerful interviews with our first Development Director and a remarkable Board Member who has passionately advocated for Cristo Rey students since our development stage. During these interviews, both participants were moved to tears when sharing their stories about the students at Cristo Rey. It was a captivating moment for me to sit in the room and share their love for Cristo Rey students, and I expect listeners to feel the same way due to the power of storytelling. No matter who the listener is, our oral history project will amplify the mission and vision of Cristo Rey. 

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