Z is for Zimbabwe Zeroth & Zenith–A to Z Blog Challenge

Zimbabwe Sunset by Steve EvansZ imageWe are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/).  The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Kindness Across Cultures: Stories to Prove We Care.  Each post highlights present-day andfolktale examples.

Zimbabwe has vibrant sunsets and the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls.  People cherish the beauty surrounding them including family, especially as the average life expectancy is only age 45.  They know life is precious for everyone.  Absorb the beauty yourself by viewing these birds atop trees in Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe taken by by Steve Evans.  He has granted permission for Story Crossroads to use this image.

Please note, “Zeroth” means immediately preceding what is regarded as first in a series while “Zenith” means at time at which something is most powerful or successful.  By partaking in this A to Z Blog Challenge, my mind has been–even before the beginning of it and to the very end–been on the kindness of others from around the world.  All these kindnesses build on each other until we are to the zenith or the most successful that we can be as part of humanity.  A reflection of the 2018 Blog Challenge experience will be out on May 7th as will others participating.

Present-Day Zeroth & Zenith

Runyararo Children’s Home is run by Harvest Christian Fellowship and held at a high school.  They care for about 10 children and cover all their costs from food to school to clothing.  Some people help sponsor from the United States though mainly people from Zimbabwe help.  Learn more here:  http://www.zimbabas.co.zw/runyararo-childrens-home/#.WuYs2YjwaUk.

Past Zeroth & Zenith (Folktale)

This Zimbabwe tale entitled “Children of Wax” was collected by well-known author Alexander McCall Smith in his book “The Girl who Married a Lion and Other Tales from Africa,” published by Pantheon Books.

Here is a summary:

A couple wished to have children. Finally, they were able to have children though each time they were born, the children were made out of wax.  The parents loved them as they would any children.  Though, with the children being made of wax, they could not go outside during the day.  Instead, they did their chores and playtime at night.  The father made a hut that was gloomy and completely dark so they would be protected during the day.  The youngest of the children, Ngwabi, longed to see the sun. The other children tried to sway him from such dreams and they all knew he would melt and be no more.  As the years passed, the desire intensified until Ngwabi ran out from the hut.  He did not get far before he melted.  The other children could only wait until nighttime.  The oldest child molded the wax into the shape of a bird that Ngwabi loved so much.  The other children gathered leaves to be the feathers and placed on a branch.  When the sun rose, they children watched through the tiniest of slits of the hut as the wax bird came to life and flew away.  The children knew their brother was happy and free.

Interesting Notes on Kindness  

  • The parents loved their children despite the differences of wax versus flesh and gave as much as they could for them to be safe and happy
  • The children were obedient and kind and a joy to their parents
  • The children tried to protect Ngwabi from the sun and sometimes kindness for others is unknown until the unthinkable happens
  • The children molded and created the wax bird to honor Ngwabi as a small kindness for what he loved
  • A higher power of some kind blessed that wax bird to life and offered that mercy to the family so Ngwabi was happy and free and the other children were happy knowing Ngwabi was happy

What stories of kindness do you know associated with Zimbabwe?  Anywhere in the world – past or present?  Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 23, 2018 with free performances May 21-24, 2018 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2018-schedule/).  

We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.

Y is for Yonder Yukon Yoke-fellowship & Yarn-listening–A to Z Blog Challenge

Inuit boy by SashaY imageWe are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/).  The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Kindness Across Cultures: Stories to Prove We Care.  Each post highlights present-day andfolktale examples.

Yonder Yukon are the Northwest Territories and Nunavut of Canada where the majority of people from the Inuit Tribe live.  Though, Yukon itself is called home by some Inuits.  Traditional Inuits believe in spirits found in all living beings, which reflects on the value of sharing and reaching out in kindness to all–from the smallest of insects to the mightiest of animals and to people of all backgrounds.  Here is a picture of an Inuit boy taken by Sasha Leahovcenco.

Present-Day Yoke-fellowship & Yarn-listening

Tungasuvvingat Inuit is a not-for-profit organization that has a majority of Inuit who provide the service to fellow Inuits of urban or non-urban areas.  These people are made aware of their rights legally and what can help them economically.  The Board of Directors are all volunteers and have a passion for helping the Inuit people from schooling, hospital needs, lawyers, and employment.  You can learn more about this organization here:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/tungasuvvingat-inuit/.

Past Yoke-fellowship & Yarn-listening (Folktale)

This Inuit tale is found in the picture book “The Orphan and the Polar Bear” retold by Sakiasi Qalinaq, published by Inhabit Media, Inc.

Although not shared in summary form here, another story of interest is called “Old Woman who was Kind to Insects.”  Find that link to the story here:  https://www.learningtogive.org/resources/old-woman-who-was-kind-insects.

Here is a summary of “The Orphan and the Polar Bear”:

An orphan lived with his grandmother though often went out with the men to hunt along the ice.  Each time, the men left the boy behind and the boy had to find his own way home.  One day, the boy heard someone behind him and it was a huge polar bear that then transformed into a man that spoke to the boy.  This man felt pity for the boy and wanted to show a kindness by teaching the boy how to be independent and be able to have skills to survive.  The man changed back into a polar bear.  The polar bear took the boy to his village of bears and gave the boy a harpoon and taught how to use it.  As time went on, one of the bears in the village would wait for the boy to catch a seal and steal the catch.  The kind polar bear told the boy that he needed to confront the bear and use his harpoon.  The boy followed the instructions and stood up for himself the next time his catch was to be stolen.  The boy returned to the polar bear village and went to his kind friend.  The mean polar bear roared for the boy though the kind polar bear told the boy to stay inside the igloo and not to go out until the mean polar bear was done yelling.  Finally, the boy was encouraged to face the mean polar bear and by then the mean polar bear had great respect for the boy and gave back the harpoon that the boy had used against this polar bear.  The boy was never bothered by this polar bear or any other polar bear again.  When the boy learned all that he could from the kind polar bear, the polar bear journeyed with the boy back to the human world.  The boy grew to be a strong young man who could survive and choose to be kind than to be cruel.

Interesting Notes on Kindness  

  • The polar bear had love for the boy and offered skills to improve the boy’s chances of survival
  • The kind polar bear knew it was better for the boy wait than to face the angry polar bear so that respect and peace could be had
  • The polar bear continued to teach for an undetermined amount of time until he felt like the boy could be successful
  • The polar bear was willing to sacrifice and part with the boy as he knew it was best for the boy to be back in the human world
  • The boy grew to be a man which included the ability to be kind

What stories of kindness do you know associated with Yukon or Yonder with the Inuits?  Anywhere in the world – past or present?  Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 23, 2018 with free performances May 21-24, 2018 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2018-schedule/).  

We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.

X is for Xhosa Xenial & Xenodochial–A to Z Blog Challenge

Xhosa WomenX imageWe are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/).  The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Kindness Across Cultures: Stories to Prove We Care.  Each post highlights present-day and folktale examples.

Xhosa is a language and a people who are the second largest ethnic group in South Africa right after the Zulus.  At least a dozen kinds of clicks are part of this language.  Nelson Mandela sought for peace in a troubled land and came from Xhosa.  These Xhosa women are having great laughs and is seen on the South African Explored website here:  https://www.sa-venues.com/language-xhosa.htm.

Present-Day Xenial & Xenodochial

The Ubuntu Cultural Festival celebrates humanity by bringing many tribes together and sharing the traditional dances, songs, and stories of each area. Though, it is more than entertainment and strives to educate through inspirational speakers on the following topics as listed on their website:  prevention of community crime/violence, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, women/child rape/abuse, xenophobia, rhino poaching, importance of education and more.  Explore this Festival’s website here:  http://xhosaculture.co.za/ubuntu-cultural-festival/.  You can also see an article about the inaugural event on August 27, 2016 here:  http://xhosaculture.co.za/ubuntu-cultural-festival/.

Past Xenial & Xenodochial (Folktale)

Although the book is titled “Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales,” it is fitting that the story “The Hare and the Tree Spirit” is from Xhosa of where he originated.  Most of the other tales in this book are from many different countries and tribes.  As can be figured out from the title, the author–or who retold these tales–was Nelson Mandela and this link is to a reprint published by W. W. Norton & Company.

Here is a summary:

An old woman tripped on a broken pot on the path.  She cursed that whoever left that broken pot would have their firstborn struck dumb and the only way to break the curse was for someone to be as foolish. A hard-working couple happened to accidentally leave that broken pot and their only child–a daughter named Tembe–was struck dumb. Although they consulted with medicine men, no one had an answer as to why it happened or how to release the curse.  The girl still grew up to be beautiful and kind, though not a word escaped her lips.  The hard-working couple were worried that despite her beauty, no one would marry their daughter.  No one did want to marry her except a young man named Nthu.  Before asking to marry her, he wanted her to be released from the curse. He walked to an euphorbia tree and poured out his wishes to it, hoping that the spirits of the tree would gran t his request. Mvundla the Hare happened to have his home under that tree and was awoken by all the pleading.  The Hare responded in a deep voice as if it was a tree spirit.  The Hare said he would think about Nthu’s wish if vegetables and berries were left at the bottom of the tree every day.  Nthu did as was desired.  Though, the longer that Nthu did this kindness, the more guilty that Hare felt in not fulfilling the wish.  Finally, Hare hopped to the Tembe’s home and investigated. The girl planted millet seedlings and did not notice the Hare.  To gain the girl’s attention, he followed the girl and re-planted her millet seedlings upside down.  The girl turned to do the next row, saw the foolish way the Hare had planted, and spoke for the first time to chastise the Hare.  When she realized she had spoken, she laughed and ran to talk to her parents after so many years of not being able to do so.  The Hare knew he would not get a thank you though knew it was only a matter of time before Nthu would stop giving him vegetables and berries.

Interesting Notes on Kindness  

  • Great unfairness can come to the most kind yet life still goes on
  • The girl’s beauty and kindness was enough for Nthu though he thought more about her than for his sake on having her voice return
  • Nthu sought to help and turned to what he thought would have enough power or abilities to accomplish the deed
  • Hare, although still the trickster, turns it into a kind deed
  • Receiving kindness long enough can eventually change someone’s heart such as it did for Hare when receiving those vegetables and berries for so long
  • Kindness is not always thanked yet still makes all the difference to the recipient (and assumed the giver of the kindness)

What stories of kindness do you know associated with Xhosa or South Africa?  Anywhere in the world – past or present?  Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 23, 2018 with free performances May 21-24, 2018 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2018-schedule/).  

We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.

W is for Winnebago Warm-heartedness & Wholesomeness–A to Z Blog Challenge

Ho-Chunk Nation - regalia pictureW imageWe are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/).  The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Kindness Across Cultures: Stories to Prove We Care.  Each post highlights present-day and folktale examples.

Winnebago tribe is known by many names including “Hotcak” or “Ho-Chunk” which both mean “People of the Big Voice or People of the Parent Speech” or “Wonkshieks” which means “First People of the Old Island.”  This meaning is much better than “Winnebago” that means “smelly waters” and was the name often used by a neighboring tribe of the Algonquin. Most people of this tribe prefer “Ho-Chunk” and is what is recognized on a federal level.  This picture of the Ho-Chunk people in regalia was officially sent by the Ho-Chunk Nation as a way to educate people on what is authentic.  You can follow the Ho-Chunk Nation on Twitter here:  https://twitter.com/HoChunkNationPR.

Present-Day Warm-heartedness & Wholesomeness

One of the oldest pow wows are hosted through the Winnebago Pow Wow.  In 2017, it celebrated 151 years of bringing together over 70 tribes to be unified and yet recognize each other’s cultures.  More on this event can be seen here:  https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/culture/pow-wows/2017-winnebago-homecoming-celebration-pow-wow-celebrates-151st-year/. With people coming together, friendships strengthen and benefits the whole nation.  Wait until the 2018 Pow Wow comes around…and see the smiles lengthen as people embrace the different traditions.

Past Warmheartedness & Wholesomeness (Folktale)

This Winnebago/Hotcak/Ho-Chunk/Wonkshiekse folktale called “The Orphan Who Was Blessed With A Horse” is found here:  http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/TheOrphanWhoWasBlessedWithAHorse-Winnebago.html.

Many more of this same culture are found as part of the First People – The Legends website along with many other tribes here:  http://www.firstpeople.us/.

Here is a summary:

A boy was known as “Little Orphan” and lived with his grandmother. Everyone made fun of him except for his grandmother.  Despite the incessant teasing, the boy remained kind and respectful.  One day, his grandmother wished for the boy to receive a dream from the spirits, the Thunders, which required fasting from food and drink for many days.  Four times he fasted four days and four nights and nearly killed him.  After many years, the boy continued these fastings to receive a dream.  Finally, he made it to a fifth day of fasting but was thirsty that he headed to a spring. At the spring was a horse dying of fatigue and ribs showing.  The boy brought water and grass to the horse and cared for its coat.  The boy told his grandmother how he did not have a dream though did take care of the horse. The grandmother said that one should always care for those who cannot care for themselves and was pleased with the boy’s actions.  The horse never regained its beauty though did receive its health again.  Then one day, word spread in the village that a great herd of buffalo were near and among them was an all-white holy buffalo.  There would be a contest on who can get the skill of that white buffalo.  The winner would receive the yugiwi (princces) hand in marriage. The boy vowed to get the white buffalo.  He fed even more grass in preparation and was so quiet that the boy heard a voice call him nephew and asked why the silence. The boy did not know what talked but them asked the horse if it had spoke. It was the horse, and the horse said the boy would get the white buffalo. The next day, everyone rushed upon their horses but the boy was so fast on his horse that he brought back the white buffalo skin before anyone else could go far. Everyone rejoiced for their was much meat to eat. The horse said that if the boy looked towards the sunset, he would discover who the horse really was and so the boy did. In the clouds he saw a white horse and knew he had been blessed by the Thunderbirds.

Interesting Notes on Kindness  

  • The boy was kind no matter how he was treated by others in the village
  • The grandmother taught the boy about kindness and complimented and encouraged the boy when he was kind to the horse
  • The boy did not hesitate to help the horse and looked after every need
  • The horse/Thunderbird repaid the boy’s kindness and dedication through the gift of the white buffalo’s skin

What stories of kindness do you know associated with the Winnebago/Hotcak/Ho-Chunk/Wonkshieks?  Anywhere in the world – past or present?  Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 23, 2018 as well as free performances from May 21-24, 2018 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2018-schedule/).  

We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.

V is for Vietnam Valance & Valor–A to Z Blog Challenge

Vietnam taken by Quang Nguyen Vinh or QuangprahaV imageWe are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/).  The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Kindness Across Cultures: Stories to Prove We Care.  Each post highlights present-day and folktale examples.

Vietnam is abundant with water from the waterfalls to the rice patties and jungles.  Water is symbolic of the values of humanity and harmony cherished by the people here.  Here we have this picture of several Vietnamese men taken by Quang Nguyen Vinh or “Quangpraha”.

Present-Day Valance & Valor

The Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation searches out Vietnamese children in crisis and helps them survive another day from seemingly small things to the life or death situations.  Advocates are assigned to the children such as social workers, psychologists, teachers and lawyers.  Each of these people boost the children’s education and well-being.  This venture started in 2003 when a child asked an adult how to learn English so as to work with foreign people wanting their shoes shined.  This expanded to children who had no adults to represent them when taken to the police station.  More can be learned here:  https://www.bluedragon.org/.

Past Valance & Valor (Folktale)

The Vietnamese folktale on how the Mai flower came to be is found in several places including:

Here is a summary:

A girl named Mai was known for always wearing yellow around the village. She was kind and took care of the kitchen god within their home.  One day, the kitchen god wished for a golden carp so he could go to the meeting in heaven.  Mai made sure to place a fish on the altar for the kitchen god. Mai also joined her father on hunts even as young as 14 and helped kill monsters terrorizing the land. She became as adept as her father.  Several years later, the village people told of a snake monster that was eating their livestock.  The father agreed to hunt for it, and Mai insisted she help.  Her father was not as strong as he used to be.  The two of them came to the snake monster’s cave and fought for a long time.  In a move to save her father, the two of them killed the snake monster but not before Mai was strangled by its tail. Due to her kindness, the kitchen god begged the Jade Emperor of Heaven to bring Mai to life to be with her parents. The Jade Emperor could not fulfill such a request though offered a small kindness that for nine days around the Lunar New Year, Mai could visit her parents.  When the parents both passed away, Mai transformed into a tree that bloomed yellow flower called “Mai” for nine days around the Lunar New Year.  Now people remember her and the ultimate kindness she bestowed to save her father.  The Mai flower adorns many homes during this time of year.

Interesting Notes on Kindness  

  • Mai was known throughout the village as being kind and honored all the same including lesser deities such as the kitchen god
  • Mai watched out for her father and insisted to go after the snake monster knowing it was dangerous
  • Mai’s kindness and ultimate sacrifice impressed the kitchen god and the Jade Emperor that even the laws of life and death were rewritten to honor her
  • Mai was allowed to return through the mercy of the Jade Emperor until both parents died as a way to keep the family together
  • People decorate their homes in the Mai flower, which symbolize great love and devotion

What stories of kindness do you know associated with Vietnam?  Anywhere in the world – past or present?  Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 23, 2018 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2018-schedule/).  

We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.