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My Dreaming

By Jade Colgan, 2006 0:00 minutes

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Jade didn't listen to the stories of her older relatives when she was young. Now she regrets not listening. She talks of the value of family oral history and the importance of stories in providing us with a sense of identity. Jade draws links between identity, childhood experiences and family connection.

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Why is it important to listen to stories?

Jade begins her story by saying: “Nana Aileen…A million stories. A million lives. I wish I’d gotten to know her.”

  • How might Jade have ‘gotten to know’ her nana better? What do stories tell us about people?

“My mum loves nana deeply. It’s still hard for mum to speak of her.”

  • List some of the reasons why people might find storytelling difficult.

“Aunty Elsie’s gone now. And with her go her stories. I should have listened.”

  • Often the source of the information and our attitude towards that source influence our readiness to engage with the story. Why didn’t Jade listen to her aunty Elsie?
  • Who are you most likely to listen to? Why?
  • Reflect on your own experience. Do you have similar regrets about not listening to stories?
  • Think about an aspect of your family history. What would you like to ask about it?
  • If there was a particular story that you wanted to hear from a family member, what might prevent you from asking about it?

Jade describes the children in her family gathering around older relatives to listen to their stories. This is an example of stories being passed down through generations by the oral tradition of storytelling.

  • Is this oral tradition common in your household or extended family? If so, who are your favourite storytellers?

Technology has provided many ways to access stories.

  •  What media are you most likely to use to access stories?

Jade feels a strong sense of identity with her Aboriginal origins, saying: “My Aboriginality – it’s what I do, how I feel, what I am.”

  • In what ways do you identify with your cultural heritage? Describe your sense of cultural identity.

Jade is ‘hungry’ for stories: “I’m hungry, hungry for the stories that I may never know.”

  • What would these stories provide for Jade?

Jade concludes her story by saying: “If you don’t know where you’ve come from, how do you go forth? How do you really know you?”

  • Do you agree? Why or why not?