It is a very interesting experience listening to two people converse in a language you cannot understand. You must rely on hand gestures, facial expressions and vocal inflections to get the tone of the conversation. Laughter, of course, always helps. Usually when a StoryCorps interview takes place, a Facilitator will be jotting down notes from the conversation and asking pointed, insightful (hopefully) questions that allow the participants to really tap into long lost memories. The San Francisco StoryBooth’s Door-to-Door at the Mabini Day Health Center was different in that none of the Storytellers spoke any English.
When Tong Kai, a 99 year old on the verge of his 100th birthday banquet, came in to tell his story, I didn’t need to speak his language to know that he has had experiences very few others on this earth have. Thanks to Mabini’s wonderful interviewer Bobby Wong, Tong Kai was able to tell his story in his native language, Cantonese.
(Bobby Wong and Tong Kai)
The San Francisco StoryBooth staff is so grateful to have been able to record the wonderful stories of people from the Mabini Day Health Center. A huge thanks goes out to Kim Gilgenberg-Castillo for scheduling and arranging these interviews, as well as to Bobby, Tammy Wong and Maelin Wang Chien for interviewing the Storytellers.