Tellers from The Jenny Fund (2021 program)

hosted by Roopa Mohan
Storytelling Room / 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

Real-time event on festival day with pre-registration required. You can find the registration link near the top of the program page when the link is ready.

Storytelling events are presented by the Storytelling Association of California (SAC).

In February, 2021 SAC launched a pilot storytelling program sponsored by the Jenny Fund. This fund was created to honor Jenny Mafoksy, a talented young teacher and storyteller who left us in 2004. In keeping with her vision to take storytelling into schools we came up with a plan to introduce virtual storytelling sessions to an underserved Title 9 public school in San Jose, California. The fifth grade had never experienced formal storytelling and the lead teacher was excited to work with us to structure this program.

Based on their needs, we started planning hour-long monthly Friday assemblies for the entire 9th grade with around 90 students. We collaborated with the teacher to come up with themes aligned with their curriculum. The school would host it on their own Zoom platform. Besides hearing these stories, the students would get a chance to interact with the storytellers either during the telling or later in the Q&A session via text chat and live video.

Addressing the diversity of the student body, the first assembly in February had three storytellers tell Lunar New Year stories from China, Vietnam, and Korea. It was well received and we had some children share their New Year traditions and engage in interaction around these stories.

In March, we focused on civil rights, with a personal story about the Jim Crow law’s impact on a youngster, a Coretta Scott historical story, and one about a close connection to Cesar Chavez. These generated questions around the context of these stories and their impact on the lives of the storytellers.

The next couple of assemblies will cover women’s rights and empowerment, as well as Cinco De Mayo.

Today we will showcase a story from each of the first 3 assemblies told by Eleanor Clement Glass, Brother Ben, and Brandon Spars.

Roopa Mohan is an Asian American who migrated to the US from India in the early 1980s. She moved with her family all over the country before settling in the Bay Area and now calls Walnut Creek, CA her home. After retiring from her domestic violence advocacy career, Roopa trained at the Asian Art Museum as a storyteller and docent for school groups. She is now busy with virtual school tours and enjoys sharing stories with pre-K to 6th grade students. Now she is also telling personal and immigrant stories to adults, often tapping into her childhood in Chennai. Roopa is on the Board of SAC, and is helping to introduce storytelling into underserved public schools via the Jenny Fund. She strongly believes that stories help build bridges and unite us, regardless of our race or ethnicity!

The Jenny Fund Storytellers: Eleanor Clement Glass, Ben Tucker and Brandon Spars

Eleanor Clement Glass
Ben Tucker
Brandon Spars