With our Asian American elders under attack, we should remember that one way to honor them is to preserve their stories. One really convenient and great way to do that is through StoryCorps, which provides apps to record their stories and a mechanism to share them online. Some of the more interesting stories are shared on NPR. I really liked one that the aired on NPR late last year called “Lola’s Work: What a Grandmother Taught Her Family About Love.”
“Lola” in Tagalog translates to “Grandmother” in English. Kenneth Tan and his mother Olivia talk about his grandmother Crescenciana Tan- the sacrifices that she made and the lessons that she taught. I found the her lesson on the different between a life’s work and a job to be particularly meaningful. I also loved seeing the old pictures of the Lola when she was younger and full of life. So many times we just think of our elders as just old and forget that they have had all kinds of experiences and adventures.
On occasion, StoryCorps will add animation to a story that they share. This one called “No More Questions” was recorded just a few weeks before the elder in the story died. I also recommend this animated version of a man’s memories of his son.
StoryCorps has a number of ways you can interview people and record their stories. They have a mobile tour where they travel between cities offering appointments for recording stories. They also provide an app and even a video conferencing option. I recorded my father’s story on a mobile touring site and used the app to record my mother. Note that recording stories doesn’t mean that NPR will necessarily air it. Also, while NPR plays short segments of a few minutes, what you record can actually be much longer. The sessions with my parents were about an hour, but in some ways it doesn’t seem long enough and I am thinking about recording more.