The National Storytellers Network (U.S.A.) sees storytelling as a form of human expression where, “there are many cultures on earth, each with rich traditions, customs and opportunities for storytelling. All these forms of storytelling are valuable. All are equal citizens in the diversity of storytelling.”
It is through exposure to this diversity that a rich tapestry of experience is created, which helps the child not only appreciate his/her own cultural heritage but the heritage of others as well.
During the International Year of the Family, the United Nations Secretariat and World Conference of Cities and Corporations honoured The Virtues Project as a model global program for families of all cultures. The Virtues Project (Kavelin-Popov L, Popov, D, Kavelin J, 1997) shares that, “qualities of character and the simple elements of spirituality are honored by all cultures and sacred traditions. All cultures honour virtues such as courage, love, honesty, loyalty, excellence and service, yet they apply them differently according to their own diverse value systems.”
Culturally, storytelling is the preferred sense-making currency of human relationships (Boje 1991). It is how we relate to each other, how we build rapport and develop empathy. Good stories assist in the development of an ethical value system.
Stories can bond people from diverse backgrounds, “help forge group identities and create a sense of common culture and understanding” (Fredericks & Cox).
Stories are effective in increasing tolerance and understanding of people from other cultures. Story telling can promote social competence by showing young people which qualities cause relationships to thrive and which actions sow distrust and discord (Linda Fredericks).
Listening to a good story is a pathway to peace. Diverse cultures recognise storytelling as a medium for sharing important information about living as an individual and feeling connected to your family, the community, the environment and the divine (Fredericks & Cox).