The idea of this innovtive project is the result of a chat I had with Dr Kevin Cordi who was accompanying a group of American students at the end of one-day visit to our school. Dr Kordi, who is teaching story-telling at Ohio University, talked to me about a project he started, in 1995, with a group of students. Though the idea seemed to be very simple, it gained international scale.
1. The idea
As a part of teaching storytelling, Dr Kordi encouraged his students to think of an interesting story to tell. The young storytellers went through a whole process of brainstorming, editing, rehearsing and eventually telling their stories in front of a ‘real’ audience. Dr Kordi was supportive in that he guided them in developing the plot using strory elements, he highlighted the importance of cooperation and team work, and, most importantly, he provided them with professional assistance on how to use the right body language to captivate their audience. After being exposed to all those educational activities, students were ready for the show. Every team used a shoebox to put in their stories, as well as pictures, drawings or concrete things that relate to the story, such as sea shells. They decorated the outside of the boxes in accordance to a common theme that relates to all their stories.
The day of the show there was a ‘ritual’ that was followed by the audience: the ceremonial Hawaiian practice of blowing the conch shell. The audience, mainly made up of parents, teachers and friends, were split into small groups in order to listen to the different teams of students who were proudly standing around their boxes. When the conch shell is blown again, people have to swap places and listen to a different group of students telling different stories.
2. Going International
The stories were not buried in the shoeboxes but toured the world. The generous idea of spreading the word and exchanging storyboxes made this amazing project travel to many countries across Europe, South America and Asia. I consider myself to be fortunate enough to meet Dr Kordi and know the story.