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The Power of Storytelling - Scott's Perspective
Share this: While a Fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii, USA, taking part in the Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP), I was introduced to the concept of ‘Talking Story’. This Hawaiian tradition involves sharing history and experiences via storytelling and is a strong element of their culture. At first I viewed this practice as little more than chatting, but slowly began to appreciate the importance that verbally sharing stories can play in societies. There’s no arguing the power that sharing history orally had prior to the advent of the written word and widespread publishing, but I had a difficult time fully appreciating its impact and place in modern times. During my stay in Hawaii I read a book about legendary Hawaiian waterman Eddie Aikau, Eddie Would Go. It beautifully documents his life and mythical demise while a crew-member aboard the Hōkūleʻa as it departed Hawaii in 1978 to begin its 30-day journey to Tahiti, using only the stars and natural environment to find its way. The story is captivating, heartbreaking, and a strong case in leadership, the focus of APLP. One evening, my cohort and I were treated to a personal meeting with Nainoa Thompson, Director of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), and the last person to speak with Eddie before he paddled off on a surfboard in high seas to seek help and was never seen again. While I ‘knew’ the story of Eddie Aikau and Hōkūleʻa’s capsizing, I realized I didn’t really ‘know’ it until Thompson recalled …