Thanks to the help of Vanessa Merina, Christie Her, and Dinh Le, we are proud to present the web anthology of the Telling Our Stories Across Generations Project.

Below is the press release and link to our new website.  And thanks to everyone in the community for their support. Most importantly, we thank the youths for contributing their stories. 


AUGUST 3, 2011
Contact:  Mytoan Nguyen
Telling Our Stories Anthology Showcases Madison Youth

We are pleased to invite past participants, mentors, educators, and sponsors to experience the release of the “Telling Our Stories” web anthology (  The anthology showcases Madison high school-coming-of-age narratives and the stories some youths produced about the people who are part of their daily lives. These stories are based on oral histories and testimonials they gathered to produce a short non-fiction project. They were also informed by a workshop series taught by a small group of University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate students.

The projects in Telling Our Stories cover a broad diversity of countries and themes; for instance, one story narrates the exile of Clara’s father, who fled a Brazilian dictatorship during the 1980s. Another relays Pachee witnessing her first snowfall in 2004 as a recent arrival with her family from a Thailand refugee camp. Amaris wrote about a Vietnam War veteran’s reflections on his wartime experience and the psychological scars this experience left behind decades later.
The lives touched by the re-telling of these stories extends beyond the immediacy of the voices recounting them: a modest writing mentorship project in 2010 led to friendships between UW graduate students, community members, and the high school youths. We have also included mentor’s stories and testimonials about the way being a listener and mentor to these students has enhanced their way of seeing and educating. Student participants such as Tenzin Kelsang, now an entering sophomore at UW-Madison, emphasized the impact the mentorship and writing project had on their lives: “Telling Our Stories has made me a stronger and more knowledgeable student about my own history.” A past mentor, Mitch Aso, who recently completed his PhD in history of science, says the program has “provided a space for the participants to open up to all different kinds of stories and make connections along the way. In the process of telling and listening, we become a community, and we become more than simply a collection of our individual stories.”
We hope this web anthology will provide a flavor of the process and projects created from this fully collaborative storytelling workshop in the community. In a later phase, we intend to share instructional materials and avenues for online viewers to bring Telling Our Stories to their own community, wherever they are.
This project was made possible by the Kauffman Grant (2010-2011), the Humanities Exposed Scholars Fellowship (2009-2010), and a number of other charitable sources at UW.  More information available at


Last year’s program, the “Telling Our Stories” project was wildly successful.  We produced an edited anthology, in limited edition, and these copies of the poetry, stories, and images produced by high school youths in Dane County were distributed to the families. We are so grateful to our past community and UW academic partners.

For 2011, “Telling Our Stories Across Generations” will feature oral history and interviewing of a family member or extended relative, and the aim is to connect biography with history.This project is funded by the UW Morgridge Center for Public Service and their Kauffman Community Entrepreneurship Program.

Location:  East High School, Career Center

Dates:  To be announced. The first info session is scheduled for Feb 17th

Time: 3:45-5:00pm

Contact:  Laurie from the GEAR UP Program or Mytoan at UW.

NOTE: It might go without saying that this blog needs updating–it’s on the to do list, folks!

Did someone say Party?

WHAT: Youth Launch – Come listen to the high school-aged youths present their final projects at the May 6 youth launch.

WHEN: May 6

WHO IS INVITED: Due to the limit on space and food, we are asking youth participants to invite up to 3 guests (parents, siblings, friends), mentors of the Telling Our Stories Project, sponsors, community partners, past guest speakers/contributors, and media staff.

By invitation only

FREE MEAL provided for RSVP guests and families of youths


Listen to youths from East High School, Memorial High School, Sun Prairie High School, and La Follette High School share their final projects.

RECOGNITION | Gift Certificate Awards | Certificates of Participation Ceremony

* To stay in touch with the project, please become a fan of the facebook page “Telling Our Stories in Madison”. Summer 2010 is our target date for the edited collection of stories and podcasts of spoken word poetry.


Please send questions to Mytoan Nguyen, Project Coordinator,

OFFICIAL SPONSORS: HEX Scholars Program, Asian American Studies Program, Sociology Dept, PEOPLE Program, Educational Policy Studies, GEAR UP Program, Madison Metropolitan School District, A Room of One’s Own Foundation (ROOF), Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Memorial Library

Updates – here’s the Agenda as of 5/04/2010 though this might change:

5:30 pm             Check-in

Buffet Dinner

6:00 pm            Welcome Remarks

About the Project

About the Partners and Co-Sponsors

About the Committee of Instructors

6:15 pm            Youth Project Presentations
7:30 pm            Certificates Ceremony

Group Photo

7:50 pm            Closing

8:00 pm            Networking

WHERE:  206 Ingraham Hall

WHEN: Sat, April 24, 2010, 10:00am-12:00pm

WHAT:  Mytoan et al will be available to meet one-on-one with mentors and youths to check in on their final projects.  Light refreshments will be served. We will have a laptop and scanner on hand to scan in images and photos.

SAVE THE DATE:  Thurs, May 6 from 5:30-8:00pm is the TOS project Youth Launch Party!

By May 1, here’s what mentors and youth mentees should submit to Mytoan over email:

a) final project in text (regardless of the medium)

b) cover art or photograph with approval for us to publish

c) cover letter detailing the youths’ experiences so far in the Telling Our Stories project.

d) mentorship evaluation (Soumary will be in charge of sending this email out)

e) RSVP whether you’ll be attending the May 6 launch and whether you’ll bring a guest. We need a food headcount.

Thanks, yo.  We’ve had overwhelming support for this project, and it could not have been done as well or run as smoothly without everyone’s volunteer dedication to the mission — empowering youths to tell a story only THEY can tell.

For April 10, “Telling Our Stories” students are required to bring:

1. PHOTO/IMAGE SCAN: Bring an original image or photo that relates to your essay or project. Include the name of the photographer and a title. Mytoan will scan images that day and return the photo to you. If you intend to scan the image yourself (which would be greatly welcomed!) please ensure the scan resolution is set to at least “300 dpi” resolution for reprinting. Email:

2. COVER LETTER: Start working on your “Cover Letter”. This is a brief reflection essay about your experience in the “Telling Our Stories” workshop. Your mentor and you are collaborators. See the handout “Cover Letter”. Email:

3. FINAL PROJECT: Your close to final draft is due on April 10 in electronic format. Remember, this is a chance to tell a story only you can tell. Remember, this is either 1) cover art; 2) a typed up short story or poem; and/or 3) podcast of a poem or story. Email: and bring a print out.

4. PODCASTS: Get in touch with Marcia Standiford if you intend on digitally recording your spoken word story or poem. She will receive a list of names of our students who want to do a podcast at their professional studios. Bring your podcast on CD by April 10.

Marcia Standiford
545 W Dayton St (Doyle Building)
Room 222
Madison WI 53703-1967
Voice: (608) 663-1969

5. REMINDER: MAY 6 LAUNCH: You can invite 3 guests to the May 6 launch located at Memorial Library at UW Madison, 5:30-8:00pm. 4th Floor Memorial Commons Room. Capacity is 60 people. It’s a time to recognize youths, mentors, instructors, and co-sponsors and to share your projects with friends and family members. We will be serving heavy appetizers and light refreshments catered by Peng Her and MaiZong Vue (Taste of Asia). Your art work will be on display and we will give each student 5 minutes of time up on stage to “show and tell” his/her project. Please come dressed for the occasion and be 10 minutes early to check in with Soumary and Mytoan.

WHAT: Hands on Arts with Mess Hall Designs at the Goodman Center


  • Additional Guest Speakers Kristina and Hua, to share about their project:

WHEN: Sat, Mar 27, 2010

WHERE: Goodman Center, Lussier Teen Center

149 Waubesa Street
Madison, WI 53704
Phone 608.241.1574

TIME: 9:30am arrival, 10AM start

DUE: Interview Essays of 250 Words from Workshop #4, submitted to Mytoan and to mentors

HOMEWORK: Work on Final Project first draft; bring a photo or image to go with your final project on Sat, April 10

NOTE: April 10 – all mentors are required to attend; youths who have cleared that day’s absence  in advance will meet separately with Mytoan

WHEN:  Saturday, 3/13

WHERE:  206 Ingraham Hall (same location as usual)

Arrive at 9:30am

TIME: 10am-12:00pm

Instructors:  Hong Tran and Mytoan Nguyen

Handouts:  One on interviewing tips, another on notetaking

Guestspeaker:  John Robinson, Madison Children’s Museum

You’ll receive your creative objects essays back with input from Vanessa and Aline.

MENTORS: Please be in touch with your mentees about their project proposals that TOS students filled out on 2/27

HOMEWORK:  250 word essay write up based on an interview you with a family member or sibbling, typed, double spaced, hand in to Mytoan on 3/27

WHO: Kong Vang, Madison-based teacher/mentor/ and Special Guest Performer Tou Saiko Lee (Minnesota)

WHAT: Spoken Word Workshop 101

WHO CAN ATTEND: Students and their Mentors

WHERE: 206 Ingraham

WHEN: Feb 27, 10-12 (arrive at 9:30 please)


Assignment:  You were asked in-class to fill out a rough draft project proposal, and both you and the instructors have a copy of this “contract”.

Also, we passed out a map with directions to our March 27, 2010 arts and crafts workshop at the Goodman Center (not 206 Ingraham Hall).

INSTRUCTORS:  Nancy Vue and Vanessa Merina

HANDOUT: Point of View and the four elements of writing a story

HOMEWORK: For homework due on Feb 27, write a story surrounding your important object. In 1-2 pages, incorporate elements of a story including point of view, setting, plot, and characters. “Workshop” this essay with your mentor before Feb 27.

INSTRUCTORS: Aline Lo and Hong Tran

HANDOUTS:  Emergency contact forms, mentorship contracts to be signed

Our first meeting turn out was a success. Hong our resident foodie brought pastries from Viet Hoa market, and some soybean milk to chillax while students arrived starting at 9:30am.

We did several “get to you” exercises.

Meeting you, the students, was one of the best parts of the day though. I’d met so many from reaching out to GEAR Up students at East High School, at the Asian Club meetings, and the leadership youth meetings at MMSD in the Doyle Building.

We’re excited for the second class coming up Feb 13, telling stories with objects.  At the next class, you’ll be joined by several more Memorial High School students, recruited through word of mouth by Cynthia.



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