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The Story Continues… Storytellers return to Gengcun, China
Tellers Spread Peace, Love and Storytelling in the People's Republic of China
by Craig Harrison

Published in the Jan/Feb, 2007
Storytelling Magazine

This past September, 41 storytellers from the United States traveled to the small village of Gengcun, China, to continue a storytelling exchange begun by Jimmy Neil-Smith in 1997 and continued by Eth-Noh-Tec in 2002. How appropriate for a village with a 600-year tradition of storytelling dating back to the days of the old Silk Road.


According to  Chinese mythology, the goddess Nu Wa created man and woman from clay, and later created peace in the heavens between the gods of fire and water. In Nu Wa's honor we, as tellers, fostered peace on earth through our stories.

From the moment our contingent — the people of the bus — arrived in Gengcun to the adoration of its 1,200 men, women and children, it was love at first story. Over four days our tellers told, played music, led arts and crafts activities in their school, presented in their Hall of Stories, and took turns telling and listening to stories in homes of Gengcun's storytellers, including master tellers who knew upwards of a hundred stories! Planned and impromptu ceremonies at village shrines added a spiritual element to the exchange.

This year's diverse group was led by Eth-Noh-Tec's Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo and Nancy Wang, Linda Wang and Linda Yemoto, and included tellers from across the States. Some were returning for the second or third time. Our youngest teller, Chloe Clunis, 14 (who told in Jonesborough in 2005), was especially popular.

Despite two levels of interpretation (English - Mandarin - Pinyin dialect, or its reverse) universals abounded. We heard stories of turtles, dragons, scheming dogs and three little pigs, evil step-mothers, overbearing fathers-in-law, simple sons, love unrequited, and more, and told the same.

Donations of school supplies, books, monetary contributions and proceeds from various fundraising projects still underway made a difference to this impoverished village.

The 17-day trip included visits to the Great Wall, Cheng De, Beijing (where tellers told at a thriving Toastmasters club) and a third week in the Yunnan province.

For more information on this trip or the next,
contact Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo at robert@ethnohtec.org or (415) 282-8705.

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contact Craig by email: Craig@ExpressionsOfExcellence.com
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