Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The importance of stories

Loyola College deemed it “The Year of the City” in order to form a stronger bond between the college and the neighborhoods surrounding the college. For Loyola this is a way to reach out to our communities, possibly doing community service or just having dinner somewhere in the city we have never traveled before. Initially students may ponder why it is just this year that we should embrace the city of Baltimore rather than the past year or next year but really, the college is just using that slogan as a way to prompt students to learn about the city so that they may be more active within the community.

Something that Loyola and Danticat both stress is the importance of storytelling. During our community service here at Loyola we are urged to talk to the people we are serving and listen to their stories. The servers and the people being served are usually more alike than they think. Many of the stories told to the servers are those that the servers can relate to. Sometimes during outreach events those people helping the community will see the people that they are helping as two-dimensional objects. Story telling allows the servers to humanize those that they are serving.

Similarly, in Danticat, story telling allows a generational connection that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. The title of the novel illustrates this trans-generational and trans-cultural connection between the characters of the novel. The stories for Danticat are a comforting reminder of her past and present condition. At the end of the epilogue she states, “Sometimes, you dream of hearing only the beating of your own heart, but this has never been the case. You have never been able to escape the pounding of a thousand other hearts that have outlived yours by thousands of years. And over the years when you have needed us, you have always cried ”Krik?” and we have answered “Krak!” and it has shown us that you have not forgotten us.” So in this way the present doesn’t only connect with the past but the past connects with the present.

Lucas’s article describes the Jesuit need to reach out to the community in order to educate poor, young men. I found it extremely interesting that the New York City Nativity School established in the 1960’s holds the same principles and education techniques as the St. Ignatius Loyola Academy in Baltimore where I tutor poor, young inner city boys. The only way that schools like St. Ignatius are able to operate in Jesuit tradition are through the stories Jesuits have written down about the success experienced in schools like the Nativity School in New York.