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Arts & Culture

Ex Fabula: Embracing Cultural Diversity

Nicole Acosta
Botanica Creative
Storyteller Katharina Hren

If you tuned in last week, you know that Ex Fabula is joining the festivities for this month’s Tosa's All-City Read. The idea is “to bring neighbors together and build a sense of camaraderie and community while promoting literacy at all ages.” This month, the community will dive into the pages of A Man Called Ove, a novel about neighbors and so much more.

On the heels of Ex Fabula and Tosa’s “Neighbors/Neighborhood” Storytelling Workshop, we’ll team up again on February 15th for an evening with our Ex Fabula Fellows as they discuss "Embracing Cultural Diversity." This important evening will begin with true, personal stories from Ex Fabula fellows. Then, you can share your own observations in small group listening circles, directed by professional facilitators from the Frank Zeidler Center for Public Discussion.

This week we have stories from two women with richly diverse backgrounds. One who dove deep into her history to understand who is she, and where she came from; and another who was never allowed the opportunity to do so.

Our first story comes from our Doors Open Milwaukee event. Katharina Hren’s family immigrated to Milwaukee from Germany when she was 6 years old. While Milwaukee is steeped in German history and tradition, the kids in Katharina’s new class called her a Nazi. Having never heard the word before, the taunting led her to dive deeply into the history of the Holocaust and the rich and layered history of Germany. What she found was that being German is complicated. As a college student studying abroad in Berlin, feeling at home for the first time, she also found herself (surprisingly) being called back to Milwaukee. Tune in to learn what it was that, finally, turned Milwaukee into “home” for Katharina.

Credit Ex Fabula
Storyteller Charlene Sivyer.

Charlene Sivyer took to the stage for our 2015 Waukesha Reads “Coming of Age” Storytelling Event. Growing up in a predominately white town, attending a Catholic school, Charlene never asked what her ethnicity was, but she knew no one else looked like her. Then, in 8th grade, at her first boy/girl party she found herself being pushed into dancing with the only African-American boy at the party. Her father found out and scolded her admonishing, “You’re not black,” without any other explanation. She later found out “what she was” but half of her was always left behind. Listen in to Charlene’s story of identity, confusion and lost heritage:

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