In September, I had the chance to travel to Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan. I spent two weeks telling in International Schools. It was a wonderful trip.
I grew up in South Korea, and this trip was like visiting familiar ground in many ways. There are only two things I think are relevant to this space about my trip.
The first is that telling to international audiences is an amazing way to become a better teller. If you have a chance to work with an audience who doesn't speak English well, you discover that you have to draw on every single tool in the toolbox a storyteller employs to get them to understand the story.
Most of my audiences spoke English fluently. Their exposure wasn't to a foreign language, but to a foreign art form. It is cool to be the first storyteller people encounter. They are astonished, excited and blown away that one person can stand in front of them and talk and transport them all over the world. Many staff members, English speaking and not, were amazed that they enjoyed it. So many of them were expecting it to just be for the kids. Choosing stories that were fun, interactive, and appropriate was very important. Every school was eager to have Dream On bring them another storyteller next season.
The one school I visited that did not have good English had a great time as well. They were 16 and 17 year olds who were in the advanced English classes, but they understood much more than they spoke. We had a wonderful time. I told Carmen Deedy's Martina the Beautiful Cockroach. The kids loved it. It was a great time.
Discovering what you need to illustrate with your body and face when your language doesn't quite fill the gap is a skill that is invaluable in the telling of tales. I always leave those audiences with a new appreciation of how much we communicate without using our voices. These trips also inform the work I do with audiences fluent in English.
The second thing I want to talk about is the organization that made the trip possible.
Dream On is a program that takes storytellers to the China as well as South America. If you want to spend some time working your tush off in a foreign country, working with audiences of varying English levels, this is the group for you. They pay for your flight, lodging and give you a stipend for food. They also give you an honorarium. This is not a gig on which to get rich, but it is an adventure, and if you are up to that, then you should contact these folks. Whatever else you get out of this, it will be fun.
So, if you are interested, contact them. They are always looking for storytellers who are up for an international tour, and a wonderful adventure.