A Discussion Group of the National Storytelling Network

Story Circles
Children at the Well

Stories Elicit Understanding

by Alexix Willey, Times Union, February 1, 2012

Photo of Audrey Seidman and Dr. Mussarat Chaudhry For 18 years, the monthly Interfaith Story Circle of the Tri-City Area has been an inspiration to people from all walks of life and religious traditions.

For six years, the Tent of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar has been one of the storytelling group's annual programs. Its tales are anchored in the traditions of Jews, Christian and Muslims, who trace their common origin to Abraham. Each year one of the three faith communities hosts the Tent event. On Tuesday at the Islamic Center of the Capital District, "Stories of Strong Women" will celebrate the triumph of women of faith throughout history.

"All of us have been influenced by strong women," said Audrey Seidman, who is Jewish (in photo on left.) "Both men and women have a lot to gain by looking at what makes them strong, not what their weaknesses are."

"My hope is that we're building interfaith relationships," said Seidman, who along with Dr. Mussarat Chaudhry, a Muslim (in photo on right), and Nancy Marie Payne, a Catholic parishioner, founded the gathering. "The more we spend time together and get to know each other, the more we can build bridges of understanding of peace."

Story circles aim to create social experiences and also move individuals on a personal level. Tuesday evening will begin a potluck dinner, which provides a platform to share and mix cultures in a setting where it can safely be said that people tend to be quite comfortable: surrounded by food.

The facilitators will lead the gathering, which is free and open to all, with stories from Scripture, history or personal experience and then open the circle to others.

But not everyone who attends tells a story. "We all need good listeners," said Seidman. "Listening is such an important part of the storytelling process."

Under one tent

What: Stories of Strong Women

Where: Islamic Center of the Capital District: 21 N. Lansing Road, Colonie

When: 6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Tuesday

Who: Open to all

How: Bring a vegetarian dish for the potluck dinner and an open mind for the story circle.

Information: Call 459-0661