Rabbit Box Teasers: Stranger in a Strange Land – Immigration Stories

Stranger in a Strange Land – Immigration Stories
October 12, 2016
by Marci White

More than 200 people gathered around a bonfire at Sandy Creek Park’s forest amphitheater to listen to stories on the theme, “Stranger in a Strange Land – Immigration Stories.” Nine people shared their stories, including immigrants from seven different countries and four continents.

Our emcee was Brad Smith, longtime resident of Jubilee Partners, a Christian community that provides resettlement help to newly arrived refugees.

Back in Nigeria, most of what Simisola Shebioba-Johnson knew about the United States was from watching “Soul Train,” where young blacks with big afros and platform shoes danced without a care. “That’s where I want to be,” she thought. She married her Nigerian boyfriend, who had traveled to the United States to study abroad. But when she flew to join him in Amarillo, Texas, she was shocked, in more ways than one, by the situation that confronted her.

Humberto (“Beto”) Mendoza immigrated with his brothers from Mexico to the United States, where they opened a mechanics shop together. But hard times came, and they had to close the shop. That year they had a bleak Christmas dinner, along with memories of everything they missed about Christmas time in Mexico.

Patricia Tacuri‘s family lived in Cusco, Peru, where her father was a professor of geology. But when he was ordered to work in a dangerous part of the country controlled by the militant Shining Path rebels, her parents fled Peru and hired a coyote to guide them on the dangerous journey across the Mexican border and into California.

When Neville Anderson‘s mother, Del Rose, immigrated to the United States as a domestic worker, Neville had to stay behind in a boarding house for kids in Jamaica. Eventually he, along with his sister and father, was able to join his mother in Washington, D.C., where he had to defend himself against bullies and learned to run really fast. His mother said, “In this life you fight and then you die.” His parents taught him that you can do anything in the United States if you’re educated — a message Neville took to heart.

Chuck Horne was chosen as the Cracker Jack storyteller. He shared an improptu story with the crowd about his observations on gender roles while working in Saudi Arabia and his encounter with a mysterious woman on a plane.

Benjamin Milano came from Puerto Rico to chilly Iowa to study writing but while in grad school found himself wondering, “Did I come here to write or to learn how to set boundaries against bigots?” The unassuming poet took self-defense lessons from a friend and was soon “prepared like a gladiator.”

Emuel Aldridge was working on a pine-cone picking crew when he accidentally hit a deer with his truck. Not wanting to waste the meat, he took it to some of the Salvadoran immigrants on his work crew. The evening he spent there, working on the deer and listening to stories, was one he wouldn’t soon forget.

Nasrin Rouhani and her husband fled Iran after the Islamic Revolution. As people of the Baha’i Faith, they were a persecuted minority. Eventually they made their way to Athens, found work, bought a house and had two children. But despite achieving the “American Dream,” they were not able to evade violence. Nasrin’s strong faith has carried her through.

As a school girl growing up in a small town in South Korea, Eun Sun excelled in all subjects except English. Little did she know that when she was 12, her father would get a job in the United States, and they would all have to move. For months she didn’t speak at all as she struggled to adjust to the new culture and language. But she rallied and again became an excellent student. She excelled in math and science and got a full scholarship to the University of Georgia. As she noted, this sounds like a typical Asian girl success story, right? But there’s a twist.

Oct 12th Stranger in a Strange Land – Immigration Stories

Join us October 12th from 7 PM to 9 PM at Sandy Creek Park for stories of immigration to the United States from around the world. Rain or shine we will have a crackling fire and stories that range anywhere from tales of heartfelt redemption, to tales of getting smuggled out of the war-torn Middle East. These first hand accounts will give listeners an appreciation for the difficulties immigrants have faced in their move to Athens, GA.

The weather Wed. night is supposed to be clear and cool with a low of 49 degrees, so dress warmly! Some reminders: 

– Stories will begin at 7 pm. However, you may want to plan to get there early to ensure you have a place to park and get a good seat. 

– Sandy Creek Park is located at 400 Bob Holman Road, Athens, GA 30607.

– At the gate, an attendant will collect a $2 per person park entry fee and will direct you to the park’s Fire Circle. (Folks 65 and over can enter the park for free!)

– Although there is some bench seating, people often choose to bring easy-to-carry camp chairs, blankets, and/or cushions. 

– Bring a flashlight! It will be dark when you leave.

– Bring snacks and drinks if you’d like–but remember the park does not allow alcoholic beverages.

– The show will happen rain or shine – there is a covered, alternate venue at Sandy Creek Park in case of rain.

Rabbit Box Teasers: Cooking Confidential

Recap of “Cooking Confidential” on August, 10, 2016 at The Foundry

by Marci White

On a sultry summer night in August, more than 200 Rabbit Box fans gathered in downtown Athens to listen to stories about the alchemy of cooking.

Tara Stuart was the always-vivacious emcee.

The first storyteller was Stevie King, who talked about how much black folks (generally) love a good barbecue and the fine art of putting one on. A tip: “Don’t ever ask what someone has in their red Solo cup. You don’t want to know.” On one special occasion his family decided to have a barbecue to welcome a new sibling into the family – a 245-lb, 6-ft, 38-year-old, “bouncing baby boy” whom none of them had known existed.

Alon Wilson, creative and innovative chef extraordinaire, regaled us with tales of some of the highlights of his long culinary career. And it’s not over; Wilson continues his quest to create fine foods experiences with his own, cross-cultural stamp of excellence.

Paul Guillebeau was in fine fettle, telling about a time when he and his brother Bill decided they wanted to cook a special country dish for the Sunday dinner. With their grandfather’s help, they had to learn the lost art of “sulling”: catching, preparing, and cooking a critter.

Mary Miller learned long ago that “food was the problem, but cooking was the cure.” In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, she volunteered to help at the St. Francis Animal Sanctuary in New Orleans, where she became the default camp cook for a big crew of hungry volunteers.

When his buddy Art called to say he’d found something amazing on the road, Peter Loose went over immediately to see what it was. They had never cooked this particular species of roadkill before but decided that they would cook an extraordinary, unforgettable meal to impress their wives. Peter credits his long marriage to “good food, adventure, and a wife who doesn’t blame me for much.” The last two factors figure prominently in his story.

Alzena Johnson has volunteered at a local homeless shelter, helping to feed the hungry of Athens, for the last six years. The winter homeless shelter, now called Bigger Vision, has persevered through many challenges and relocations over the years. All are welcome there – none are turned away, no matter how many times you’ve fallen. Anyone can get fed, and anyone can bring a hot meal for the shelter.

“Losing” a parent is not like “dropping my mother off in a parking lot and forgetting where she is,” says David Ferguson. It’s more like an earthquake or a hurricane . . . something that shakes you to the core. In grief a person might become detached from all the pleasures of life, or he might embrace all the visceral things that make him feel vital. There’s a reason why people bring rich, tasty food to the grieving, David says. What they bring is more than just food – it’s alchemy for the soul.

Rabbit Box Teasers: On The Run!

On the Run Summary

Melissa Harward

Rabbit Box kicked off July with tales of endurance, struggle, and getting away from it all. Our storytellers shared stories of being on the run — from competing in marathons to pursuing the history of displaced peoples. Jesse Houle was our Master of Ceremonies for the evening and shared with the audience some of our performers’ favorite experiences in Athens.

Rabbit Box veteran Ivan Sumner started the evening with his story of training for the Detroit marathon. After failing to find a compatible running partner, he settles on the only person left with a flexible schedule.

Running is apparently a virus that some folks just catch. After getting the bug from his brother, Paul Quick ends up qualifying for the Boston Marathon and joins 30,000 others suffering from the same affliction.

Sara Winick-Herrington lost her job and found herself lost at 38. She found herself after sitting in silence for 10 days. Later she found herself across the world in Bali.

As young teens on the European Command Base in Germany, John Mincemoyer and his friends had a knack for getting into trouble. One particular night of sometimes-dangerous mischief led by another boy leaves John on the run from the military police.

Our crackerjack storyteller of the evening was our very own Neal Priest, who decides to take revenge on a camp director after running into him berating a camper.

While some prefer to run as a social exercise, Tim Bryant prefers to train solo. In the early mornings by himself, he can come across some strange things.

Robert Alan Black has ranged across 93 different countries. On a trip to France with his girlfriend (later his wife), the couple finds themselves searching everywhere for a resting place. When they find it, they can’t decide whether to run.

Instead of running away from life, Adam Lassila runs toward the things he believes. In 2014 he finds himself exploring the northern regions of Guatemala learning about a massacre that devastated local villages.

Rabbit Box returns on August 10 with Cooking Confidential. If you’d like to join Rabbit Box as a storyteller, contact us at rabbitboxstories@gmail.com.

Rabbit Box Teasers – Tying the Knot

Tying the Knot

Summary by Melissa Harward

Rabbit Box returned in June with stories of love, disaster, and the good old ball ‘n’ chain. Summer means wedding season is upon us, and our storytellers brought us tales from all over the globe about settling down. Our Master of Ceremonies of the evening was Neal Priest, who presented the audience with marriage trivia facts throughout the night.

Neal welcomed his wife – and our very own – Pat Priest to kick off the night with her story that will resonate with anyone who has been part of a bridal party. As a bridesmaid, your responsibilities typically include keeping the bride sane throughout the wedding process. Pat learns that sometimes, this includes keeping the bride’s family sane, too.

Emily Rose Thomas always thought weddings were synonymous with disaster. On her own wedding over the Thanksgiving holiday, she gets her own taste of calamity.

Finding a compromise between different cultural and family values on your wedding day can be difficult.When her friends ask her to preside over their marriage ceremony, Molly Williams agrees. Through watching them find a middle ground, Molly’s faith in romantic weddings grows.

Sometimes tying the knot isn’t always for forever, but that doesn’t mean two people aren’t committed. Dan Everett explains his approach to marriage.

Our crackerjack storyteller of the evening was Rabbit Box veteran Earnest Thompson, who told the audience about his own wedding day 49 years ago.

Marriage in other cultures can look a little different than the Western idea of falling in love and becoming life partners with someone. After witnessing her brother navigate through the idea of an arranged marriage, Sonia Sharmin explains that a family’s opinion of your future spouse can change the tide.

Craig Wiegert has been married to his husband three times. This is the story of their journey through 17 years of fighting for their right to marry.

What happens when an Atheist marries a Muslim? In this story, Angela Romito reflects on the cultural and religious differences that sometimes tie us closer together in marriage.

Rabbit Box will return on July 13th with On the Run and Cooking Confidential in August. Thank you to all of our supporters, volunteers, and the Foundry. If you’re interested in telling a story, be sure to contact us at rabbitboxstories@gmail.com.