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Sharing is Caring

The elevator in the building where I work changes its message board regularly, announcing what each month brings. May appears to be the busiest. There are over 50 (50!) special interests to bring awareness to including Teen Self-Esteem, Better Sleep, Get Caught Reading, National Asparagus (not kidding!), National Photo, National Salad and even National Chocolate Custard Month to name a few.

While it’s no secret that National Bike Month is my favorite special interest (though I don’t need a specific month to get me on two wheels), one I wasn’t aware of was National Share A Story month. And in May, I’ve got four scheduled.

This morning I s

poke at a private catholic school off Burnside Avenue in the Bronx. For those not familiar with the Bronx, this is an area some people may not feel comfortable walking in. I took two trains and walked a few blocks to the school, whose exterior has seen better days. After opening their doors 100 years ago, Holy Spirit will be closing them for good at the end of this semester.

I was escorted to the gymnasium, with its wooden floors and horrible acoustics. Folding chairs were arranged in a semi-circle around one of the baskets and I was to stand in the center of the key, a place I used to frequent in high school. The first group – 30 fourth and fifth graders – was inquisitive and well behaved, sitting with eyes wide as I shared the story of my grandfather’s life with them. When I was finished, hands shot up, many with two or three questions each.

After 45 minu

tes they left and the next group shuffled in. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders, about 60 of them, looked like larger versions of the first group, though their body language was completely different. They were just as well behaved, but when I finished speaking, there was silence. Not one question or comment. Over the last few years, having spoken to almost 3,000 people, many of them students, I’m used to the silence, the insecurity of raising one’s hand. However, before I let them go, I encouraged them to call their grandparents and ask them to share a story about their lives. “Our futures are based on our past,” I told them, and it is through the sharing of stories that we find out just where it is we are headed.

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