Monday, November 23, 2009
No, I don’t mean you need to tell me. But it could be a question you ask a loved one on the National Day of Listening this Friday, November 27. That is the day StoryCorps invites you to "set aside one hour to record a conversation with a grandparent, an aunt, a neighbor, a veteran, or a client at a local soup kitchen and ask the big questions, such as, ‘How do you want to be remembered?’ or ‘What was the proudest moment of your life?’” The sort of questions that rarely come up around the dinner table or on a family visit.
StoryCorps provides nearly 150 questions, broken into small bundles, as prompts to get you started. Questions for anyone. Questions for grandparents, parents, friends. Questions about growing up, work, war, love and relationships, religion, school, marriage, raising children, serious illness, family heritage. Select a few questions that appeal to you for the person you would like to interview. Or customize with the Question Generator tool.
Here is a small sample of the Great Questions List – Questions for Anyone:
What was the happiest moment of your ife? the saddest?
What are the most important lesson you’ve learned in life?
What is your earliest memory?
What are you most proud of in your life?
How would you like to be remembered?
Is there anything that you’ve never told me but want to tell me now?
Is there something about me that you’ve always wanted to know but have never asked?
For helpful hints, download the simple Do-It-Yourself Guide from StoryCorps, and perhaps watch the short how-to video. Read or listen to other StoryCorps interviews for inspiration, like this one with journalist Daniel Schorr. To record your conversation, use whatever works for you – from computer to cell phone, tape recorder to pen and paper. Keep it as simple and inexpensive as you wish.
You can register as a participant in the National Day of Listening, share your interview, hear the stories of others. Don’t feel daunted. No need to be an expert interviewer. People naturally want to share their stories with someone who will listen. "It may be the most meaningful time you spend this year," says StoryCorps.
If this one day does not work for you, make time in December, or at your family reunion. The point is to capture the stories before they slip away with the lives of those who carry them. “If we take the time to listen, says Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps, we’ll find wisdom, wonder, poetry in the lives and stories all around us.” Look for Isay’s book Listening is an Act of Love, a collection of the best interviews.
Related Blog Post: “Listening is an Act of Love”