By TODD GOTTULA
KEARNEY – Two award-winning storytellers and singer/songwriters will host workshops at the University of Nebraska at Kearney as part of the Jan. 20-24 Kearney Area Storytelling Festival.
Kim Weitkamp will present “Memory Mapping and Storybox Techniques” from 9:05 to 11 a.m. Jan. 21. Michael Reno Harrell will present “The Southern Appalachians and Race, One Man’s Experience” from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. Jan. 22.
Both workshops will be at the Ockinga Conference Room on UNK’s west campus. They are free and open to the public.
Harrell and Weitkamp have each performed as the featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival and Teller In Residence at the International Storytelling Center.
Weitkamp will walk participants through a simple but highly effective process called memory mapping. The workshop is designed to improve communication skills and is for anyone who needs to manage, lead or inspire others.
Weitkamp is an internationally known storyteller, humorist and speaker who has consulted and presented to some of the largest companies in the world.
“When you tell a story, people listen. As humans, we’re hard-wired for stories. We use them to pass on ideas, to make sense of the world, to entertain ourselves,” said Weitkamp.
“Where statistics leave people cold, stories engage. Where abstract ideas are difficult to grasp, stories bring to life,” she added. “But where do you pull stories from? It’s simple. You have an ample amount of stories resting inside of you, just waiting to be pulled out and used.”
Harrell is a veteran storyteller and entertainer who teaches about Southern Appalachian culture, history and experiences through stories and self-penned songs.
His workshop at UNK will explore the relationships between the Anglo-Scots-Irish heritage settlers of the Southern Appalachians Mountains region in North Carolina with the African-American, Native-American and Jewish-American populations in western North Carolina and east Tennessee, focusing on the period following World War II through present.
“This area, due in great part to its geographic location, has tended to have a somewhat different view of race issues in many aspects than those prominent in the Deep South,” he said.