Posted by eireland 3 years, 8 months ago


I've been interviewing families with children battling cancer on behalf of the Emilio Nares Foundation (ENF) for a video series we're creating. I'm beyond inspired by their candor and courage when the microphone is on. We dig deep -- discussing their daily struggles and how they keep hope alive. I'm learning that some families are asking to be interviewed and they seem to really light up during these conversations. Being listened to tells them how much their lives and the lives of their children matter. I imagine they've been told otherwise since most ENF families have incomprehensible challenges on top of dealing with their child's cancer diagnosis. 

These interviews make me think of StoryCorps, a nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of Americans. It’s the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered. Creator Dave Isay, received a TED prize for the program about five months ago. During his acceptance speech he asked that every High School student across the country record an interview with an elder over Thanksgiving so an entire generation of American lives and experiences can be captured in one weekend. 

To make that dream a reality, StoryCorps built a smartphone app that walks the interviewer through the process, helps pick questions, and gives all the tips needed to record a meaningful conversation and then upload it to the nonprofit's Library of Congress archive. StoryCorps interviews are typically conducted in a physical booth with the help of a faciliator at various locations throughout the U.S. so the app is a game changer. 

What Isay shared on stage at TED turned into a movement called "The Great Thanksgiving Listen." While it's geared toward High School students, it's open to and a great idea for everyone to interview a family member, a friend, or even a stranger this holiday season. 

Isay said something really profound in his speech that only after his father's death was he "fully and viscerally" able to grasp the importance of making these recordings. Fortunately, he had his father recorded and considers that a gift he can share with his young children who didn't get a chance to really know their grandfather. People often say to him that they wish they'd interviewed their loved one, but waited too long. The app means that wait is over and anyone, anywhere around the world can download it to record a meaningful interview and archive it to be preserved throughout history. 

Isay hopes this becomes a tradition where people are honored with a StoryCorps interview on their 75th birthday or that people go into hospitals, homeless shelters, nursing homes or even prisons armed with this app to honor the people LEAST heard in society to ask who they are, what they’ve learned in life, and how they want to be remembered. 

While you're wolfing down turkey and pie, please remember that everyone around you has a story the world needs to hear. Use your smartphone to show someone they matter through StoryCorps. 


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