Storytellers Project to present 'My Family, My Culture' virtually
Leon Malmed was 4 years old when he escaped the horrors of the Holocaust thanks to the help of strangers.
“(We) were saved from certain death by a Christian couple and their two teenage sons at the risk of their lives…” said Malmed, referring to himself and his sister, who was 9 at the time.
“Our parents were murdered in Auschwitz. Despite all the traumas my sister and I went through, we, as young adults, found our way to happiness.”
On June 3, Malmed, 83, of South Lake Tahoe, California, will share his personal experience while paying homage to the French family that risked their lives to save his and his sister’s.
He is among five people from Oregon, Arizona, Nevada and California sharing personal stories about family and culture during the West and Sunbelt Storytellers Project’s virtual storytelling show. Newsrooms of the Ventura County Star, Salem Statesman Journal, Reno Gazette-Journal, Arizona Republic and Arizona Daily Star are joining together to host the virtual event.
Watch at 4 p.m. PT and register in advance to receive a reminder at https://www.storytellersproject.com/all-events. The show can be viewed on the Storytellers Project’s Facebook page, YouTube channel or website.
The four other storytellers are:
- Sean Ewert, 52, of Los Angeles, an actor and storyteller.
- Dr. Charlinda Haudley, 29, Tucson, Arizona, who is Diné.
- Melissa Fees, 53, of Phoenix, a student at the Storytelling Institute at South Mountain Community College.
- Kiersten Garber, 50, of Salem, Oregon.
Malmed said he wants to share his story because he fears history could repeat itself.
“I am concerned that if the miseries of World War II and the Holocaust catastrophe are not told, such events will be repeated,” he said.
Haudley’s story will speak to the importance family, culture and community played in her professional success.
“My story is about my academic and personal journey leaving the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona to pursue higher education,” she said. “As a first-generation student at the bachelor’s, master’s and now doctorate (level), my story speaks to the importance of family, culture and community in my success.”
Haudley said her hope is to showcase her resilience as a Diné woman and emphasize the power of community and culture.
“Too often the Native American voice and perspective are missing from the stories we hear,” she said. “I wanted to tell my story because I want another Indigenous person listening to feel empowered to share their story, as well.”
Ewert’s story is about unconditional love and acceptance. He will talk about returning home after the death of his mother, a decade since he last returned, and hoping that his same-sex partner will be welcomed by his father.
“My father's unconditional love gave me the courage to bring my LGBTQ life and friends back home after many years,” he said. “It was a second chance to rebuild my relationship with my father.
“There are so many people in the LGBTQ community who struggle for acceptance within their families. Maybe (my story) will help someone who is in a similar situation,” he said.
Fees said she hopes to convey through her story her love of cooking and family — and what it’s like to make hundreds of tamales during the holidays.
“During the pandemic, we all had moments where you realize what really matters and what endures — love, family, relationship and maybe some recipes are enduring,” she said.
“My story is about a granddaughter home from grad school learning to cook in my Nana’s eat-in kitchen — the same kitchen I ate my breakfast on my first day of kindergarten and the same kitchen we would all make tamales together every year at Christmas.”
Garber's story is about growing up in a dysfunctional family and finding her place and solace in the world of music.
"I will share the history of my name and how a dynamic relationship with a musical instrument helped shape my identity," she said.
The Storytellers Project serves as a way for USA TODAY Network newsrooms to connect with their communities through their journalism as reporters and editors coach people in bringing their truths to virtual audiences.
The nights blend the authenticity of storytelling as an art form with the truthfulness, community-building and empowerment that great journalism is grounded in.
“My Family, My Culture” is the second show of the West and Sunbelt Storytellers Project's 2021 season. This year, the project will share people's stories in 43 national and regional shows.
Learn more about the Storytellers Project and apply to tell a story at https://www.storytellersproject.com/tell/.
Need to know
- What: “My Family, My Culture”
- Where: The Storytellers Project’s website, Facebook Page and the YouTube channel.
- When: June 3 at 4 p.m. PT
- More: Watch past virtual shows on YouTube and recorded in-person shows on the Storytellers Project's website.
- Sept. 2: Home
- Nov. 2: Traditions