RICHFIELD — Adults, teens and kids can learn more about Asian culture from folktales presented by an esteemed Vietnamese storyteller, create their own stories and learn storytelling skills at “Rice Cakes and Watermelon Seeds,” a three-part workshop offered free on Saturdays, March 9-23, 2 p.m. at Hennepin County Library – Augsburg Park, 7100 Nicollet Ave., Richfield. Participants are encouraged to attend all three sessions.
The sessions are: How to Find and Tell Good Vietnamese Folktales (March 9), Learn the Secrets of Writing a Good Story (March 16) and Use Your Own Imagination and Creativity to Bring Your Story Alive (March 23).
“Oral tradition is vital in Asian communities and the Vietnamese immigrant community. It creates a bonding between generations,” said Phuoc Tran, a librarian at the Augsburg Park Library and co-founder of the Asian Storytellers Alliance. “The best gift for the younger Vietnamese generation is the sharing of oral traditions, stories from the older generation. In order to sustain a community over time, we need to have words, stories written down so that’s accessible to the new generation.”
Hung Duc Phung, a member of the Asian Storytellers Alliance and a native of Vietnam, will present the workshops. He grew up in central Vietnam during the war, and was forced to join the Communist army in 1981. He eventually fled to escape inhumane treatment, leaving behind his large family, and immigrated to the Philippines in a perilous, 1,000-mile voyage in a small boat.
Amidst desperate living conditions in a refugee camp, he was determined to help others. He volunteered as a paraprofessional for a social services agency serving mental health clients.
Eventually Phung immigrated to Minnesota, where he pursued higher education while holding down a job and financially supporting his family in Vietnam. He is a licensed guidance counselor and currently working as a student advocate/counselor in the Bloomington Public Schools.
Phung brings his rich heritage, great resilience and survival skills, and an adventure-filled life to his storytelling.
Tran of the Augsburg Park Library said Vietnamese history and its oral storytelling tradition date back more than 4,000 years, when the first Vietnamese nation was founded under the name Van Lang. She said the storytelling of the Asian Storytellers Alliance celebrates family values and traditions, and shares Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage with the world.
“As a parent myself, I strongly believe that elders and parents in the Asian communities long for a connection to the younger generations, following in their ancestors’ footsteps,” Tran said. “Additionally, as younger generations are looking to plant their roots deeper in the world, they are also looking to their heritage as their foundation.”