One can define a mission statement as specifying the goals and objectives in their chosen field or profession. So, what is my mission statement? It is to enlighten, enrich, and educate others about African American cultural traditions through the art of storytelling.
Now that the Summer Reading Program has concluded, I can reflect on the many opportunities I had to fulfill my mission statement. As I toured the greater Salem area throughout the Chemeketa Cooperative Library System, I was thrilled at the audience response to the folklore and folktales in my program. From the Dallas Public Library to Mt. Angel, the venues were well attended and the audiences’ were eager with anticipation to hear stories or as a colleague puts it, “listen with a juicy face”.
This eagerness to listen excited me even more than usual because of the library locations. Each of the eleven locations I visited was in a rural community where typically there is a lack of exposure to the arts. Having grown up in a small town, an important part of my mission is to return to rural areas and use storytelling (specifically African American storytelling) to bridge cultures and connect with the community.
The stories I told throughout the Summer Reading Program were well received by a variety of audiences. As a result, the listeners were open for audience participation as well as volunteering to join me on stage to tell a story. And after each performance there were always questions. For example, I was asked several times about my cow tail switch, my African clothing, the Djembe drum, and of course how I made the sound effects I used.
In conclusion, this tells me that the listener’s interest was aroused and they wanted more . . . more information, more knowledge, more stories. And as the saying goes, “always leave them wanting more”. Mission Accomplished.