Performing at Universidad Javeriana in Bogota Colombia was a great experience. I am uber impressed with the respectfulness and attentiveness of the students here. Storytelling is an important part of the student’s lives. In fact on every campus once a week there are performances. And EVERY week hundreds of students gather to listen.
It is fantastic on so many levels:
they are learning the stories of their cultures
they are learning the art of storytelling
they are learning how to be a good audience
and they are learning important life lessons while also laughing.
I began with Camping with Colombians, a true story about what happens when one camps with 3 “expert” campers in Parque Tayrona with only the following provisions: 1 can of tuna, 1 tomato, 1 red pepper, 2 bottles of Soy Sauce, 4 litres of water and 1 Large Bottle of Rum. “Gringa, don’t worry,” became the mantra of the tale. Though in the end it all worked out. Carlos did spear a small fish for us. We did make a tasty soup with the ingredients on hand (though for me, 2 bottles of soy sauce in ONE soup, proved to be a bit much.) I did learn some new camping skills such as how to reignite a fire while wearing a snorkel mask and fanning the flames with a pot lid. And the big bottle of rum proved to be helpful when all 4 of us ended up “sychronized sleeping” in a tent made for two.
The students laughed at all the right places, it was a joyous experience for me to be able to tell in my own language and be understood.
The students stayed even as it began to rain on us. I was impressed, the 70 or so students did not leave nor complain, but sat outside through the rain until we decided to head indoors. Our trek to the classroom was similar to the Pied Piper.
I decided to continue with humor and on a whim I shared
The Big Wheel Race, a story I’ve always wanted to tell about participating in the Big Wheel Race in NYC. I shared it was gusto, re-enacting the purchase of the Big wheel; the bus ride into NYC with said Big Wheel, a colorful description of the Superheros gathered for the race, and then the RACE itself! An event that, two years later is still one of my favorite experiences, Ever! Careening down the hill in Central Park at 20mph, while wearing a blue cape and bubble wrap elbow and knee pads, screaming like a child the entire way down. It was indeed, Awesome! More awesome was the line that popped into my brain, “And when others in the crowd asked if they could share my Big Wheel, I responded, ‘Yes You Can!’ Just like Barack Obama!” The students dissolved into fits of laughter.
We ended our time together with Free Hugs Around the World. You know you’ve truly connected to a college student audience when you see them wiping away tears. I shared my journey of doing Free Hugs all over the world. In 30 cities in a dozen countries. An especially poingent moment in the story was when I had the honor of hugging a child in Paris with autism. His mother stood nearby and began to cry. When I asked her what was wrong she responded, “He has never hugged another person nor looked them in the eye. You are special.” I replied, “And so are you.” Then with arms open wide, I gestured to the students and whispered, “and so are You.” Afterwards several students gathered around me expressing their desire for a Free Hug. Of course, I obliged!
It was a most wonderful experience and I am grateful to Quiero Cuento for inviting me to share! HUGS!