Storytelling is an art that has been a part
of every culture for centuries. Stories have been used to teach, communicate,
entertain or as a form to preserve culture. Everyone has had some sort of
experience with a story, through words, pictures, or sound.

UTSA Storytellers is a new student
organization dedicated to the preservation of the art of storytelling.

The organization is designed to be a
screen-less form of learning and expression. Advisor Ryan McPherson wants
members to return to a world where “human beings listen and speak without
computer mediation.” He stresses that storytellers exist within every
discipline at UTSA and employment industries.

“Our organization is open to every single
major on campus. Scientists and artists have a lot to teach one another about
what makes a good story,” McPherson explained to new members at the first
Storytellers meeting.

“It’s not just the English major or the
communication major who has a monopoly on good storytelling; there’s no such
thing” said McPherson.

UTSA Storytellers hold monthly meetings which
provide learning experiences and activities.

There will be workshops, also called
“WorksTelling,” open mics; story swaps, which are smaller, more intimate form
of an open mic and visits from modern masters and professional storytellers
such as Larry Thompson, a guest storyteller at the first meeting.

New members can expect to gain important
skills and abilities such as universal communication skills, leadership, the
ability to influence and entertain with compelling stories, and a better
representation of self.

“If they are interested in creating a better
career, they need to be good storytellers. If they are interested in the
improvement of any dimension of life, they need to be better storytellers,”
McPherson said.

“They get to choose how to make meaning and
how to best ‘sell themselves’ on this organization. One student may be
interested in making themselves more employable while another is interested in
the pure joy that we are wired to experience when listening or telling stories”
said McPherson.

Out of the many UTSA clubs, McPherson
believes Storytellers offers the most in universality. As he explains, everyone
is wired to tell and understand stories, and because the organization is
dedicated to the storytelling movement, it is able to reach a great number of
students due to natural appeal.

“There is no reason why every student should
not join Storytellers at UTSA. We literally offer value for everyone,”
McPherson said. “It is always exciting to find your tribe, if you are looking
for fun-loving people who listen and speak, well, this is your tribe.”

Storytellers hopes to establish a website and
recruiting mechanisms to become a recognized student organization. The
organization also hopes to travel to festivals and conferences, create student
scholarships, establish fun university-wide annual events and have every UTSA
student as a member.

“Whenever I was in college, one of the most
beneficial outside of class experiences I had was being a part of a group
called the Advertising Club,” McPherson said. “By the time I graduated we had
about 300 members, which was one of the largest ones on campus and we had
scholarships set up. We went on annual trips, we went to conferences and that’s
kind of what I want to model this after.”

McPherson started by holding elections for
board members during the first meeting. The board is made up of a president,
vice president and two vice presidents of unique job titles within each of the
five committees. By the end of the meeting, only three of the 12 positions
remained open.

“Each of these positions has a lot to
accomplish. The positions aren’t just there for the sake of being there; they
all have individualized goals,” McPherson said. “Because those goals are so
important, I’ve created committees based on those. So the VP of financial
affairs and VP of fundraising are the leaders of the fundraising committee, for
example.”

On Saturday, April 13, UTSA will be hosting
the Storytelling Challenge, a morning open to the public celebrating the art of
storytelling. The event will be held in the Retama auditorium on the second
floor of the University Center from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The event will consist of invitational small
group story swaps and an open mic open to the public for listening and
participating. There will also be a concert featuring professional storytellers
and an awards ceremony following the competition between pre-registered UTSA
students vying for the title of best UTSA storyteller of 2013.

There are 18 students signed up to compete.
The deadline for registration was March 28, but anyone interested can e-mail
Ryan McPherson to register.

For more information on the UTSA Storytelling
Challenge, visit the department of communication website. Anyone interested in
the organization itself can email Ryan McPherson at Ryan.McPherson@utsa.edu or
attend the next club meeting on Wednesday, April 3 at noon in MB 0.306.

 

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