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International students in Nanaimo will try storytelling in their second language

Around Town Tellers host ‘Love and Other Misadventures’ event Feb. 10
Veera Lahdensuo, left, and Luzia Oberndorfer will share personal stories on Friday, Feb. 10, at the Unitarian Hall as part of an Around Town Tellers event. (Submitted photo)

It can take a lot of courage to stand before a crowd and tell a story.

And doing so for the first time, not in one’s native tongue and while in a foreign county, takes even more, says Cindy Shantz, committee member for the Around Town Tellers collective.

Through the Nanaimo Rotary Club, two teenage exchange students will do just that by means of the storytelling collective’s monthly sessions at the Unitarian Hall.

“Neither one of them has been on stage or written a story before and told it in life. I’m just overwhelmed with admiration,” said Shantz, adding that the group has never had teenagers part of the sessions before.

Eighteen-year-old Wellington Secondary School student Veera Lahdensuo, from Lapua, Finland, said her story will focus on an incident that happened while travelling to Disneyland last year.

“I’ve never been a part of anything like this. So it’s very exciting to try a new experience myself,” she said.

Having already attended a Stories on Friday session before, Lahdensuo said she enjoyed learning about others’ perspectives and hopes the audience will learn something from hers.

“English isn’t my first language, so it’s quite scary to go up there and tell a whole story. And I hope to be a better storyteller and not to be scared to do it in the future,” she said.

Sixteen-year-old Nanaimo District Secondary School student Luzia Oberndorfer, from a small village outside Salzburg, Austria, said she will share a story from her childhood that takes place in a school courtyard.

“I think the biggest struggle for me will be standing there without anything in my hand and just talking. I’ve never done it before,” she said. “I hope people just find it funny and humorous. There’s no moral … I just hope it makes them feel better.”

Oberndorfer said she hopes the experience will not only help her learn how to express herself better, but that it will also improve her writing, since her sights are set on becoming a children’s book and young adult author in the future.

“When they’re learning this, they’re gaining confidence, they’re developing skills in the language, they’re learning to be specific, to use imagery, to be persuasive. But they’re also learning to edit and to constructively critique each other,” Shantz said. “And that they don’t need to be perfect. That’s big.”

Lahdensuo and Oberndorfer will perform at the Unitarian Hall on Friday, Feb. 10, at 7:30 p.m. for Around Town Tellers’ ‘Love and Other Misadventures’ story session.

READ MORE: Nanaimo storytellers’ group celebrates 15th season and return to in-person sessions

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Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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