Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Story Questions

Have you heard about StoryCorps? It’s an extensive oral-history project through which people around the country have the opportunity (and the help of a facilitator) to do a 40-minute interview with someone else in their life (usually someone they love) in order to tap into that person’s wisdom and experience and preserve it for others.

Participants take home CDs of their interviews and recordings are also preserved in the Library of Congress. Thousands of people have participated. Excerpts of interviews are broadcast on the radio each Friday on NPR’s Morning Edition. And recently a book, Listening Is an Act of Love, was published.

Well, you know how I love a good short story, and I love to see people take the act of listening seriously. What would it be like if each one of us sat down with someone – say, our moms, or our dads, if they are living – and asked them some of these questions? And what if we didn’t change the subject or contradict the speaker, what if we just listened? Would we hear things we hadn’t heard before?

This is from the appendix of the book:
Favorite StoryCorps Questions
  • What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?
  • Who was the most important person in your life?
  • Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did this person teach you?
  • Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned?
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • What is your favorite memory of me?
  • If you could hold on to one memory from your life for eternity, what would that be?
  • Are there any words of wisdom you’d like to pass along to me?
  • What are you proudest of in your life?
  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • Do you have any regrets?
  • What does your future hold?
  • 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?
  • Turn the tables: This is you’re chance to tell the person you’re interviewing what you’ve learned from him or her and what that person means to you.
You can find more StoryCorps questions here. You can also find information on how to record an interview yourself.

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