The current issue of The Rotarian magazine has an interview with David Isay, founder of StoryCorps, a non-profit offering recording booths where anyone can reserve a spot to interview a relative or friend. Isay says, "I came to believe that the act of interviewing was having an impact, reminding people how much their lives matter."
Last year while I was president of the Malone club, members were invited to tell their stories. The club had several members who had been Rotarians for 50 years and some younger members who were new to the Malone area. All Rotarians were given a chance to share a bit of their life story and get to know each other better. One meeting a month was set aside for two or three members to each give a short talk.
Everyone's stories were amazing. The first two people -- a Pastor whose early life experiences would make a great movie and a school principal who told a warm, funny and personal story -- set the bar high. The rest of the members met the challenge, with stories that brought club members closer together. One member I personally was grateful we were able to hear passed away not long after he spoke. His talk left us with some special memories.
DG Ariane says that the year she was president of the Cornwall club, she had some of the club's long standing members do what she called a “re-classification” talk. One of the members, a dentist, was an antique expert and showed club members how his log house had been dismantled and was rebuilt piece by piece at its present location. DG Ariane says, "He passed away this summer, very unexpectedly, but I still remember that talk."
We didn't use an interviewer, though members were free to ask each other questions and they often did. Many clubs have "vocational/classification talks" where new members get a chance to introduce themselves to the club, but how new members learn about everyone else in the club is sometime a bit hit or miss. Sharing stories is, as Isay says, "...about connecting with someone you care about." The one thing I regret is that we did not record the talks.