This week we’re celebrating the graduation of our Junior Memory Collectors.  Below you’ll find some of their  work and their reflections on the program.

Memory Collector: KATERINA KAPETANAKIS

IN HER OWN WORDS: The final ten weeks of my time with SBYF has come to an end, but in the six months I’ve spent working with the Spaces Between Your Fingers project, I’ve learned a lot.

The Spaces Between Your Fingers project works to preserve the memories of people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My job, as junior memory collector, was to interview these people and to record their stories and memories in the form of short stories. Working for SBYF, I’ve learned that the key to telling a good story is being a good listener. In order to help other people share their memories, it isn’t enough to simply ask them a few questions, take down some notes, and just churn out a story. You have to listen. You have to listen for the excitement in their voices when they tell you about their favorite summer activity. You have to listen for the laughter in their voice when they tell you about the way their spouse embarrassed themselves on a first date. You have to listen to how, no matter what story they tell you, they always come back to one specific detail that makes their eyes light up with joy when they think of it.

Then you have to somehow take that piece of them and put it onto paper, which is harder than it looks if you want to do it right.

Capturing a person’s voice is what’s important. The story is their story, not yours. You are acting as an extension of their voice, and it’s something that working with SBYF taught me is both a great gift and a great responsibility. It’s a gift because you are now allowed into their world, and you get to share all the joys and excitements of another human being through the most intimate form possible, the telling of stories. It’s a responsibility because, not only do you have to tell the story as accurately as possible, but you have to make sure that, above all, their voice is heard in the story. And to do that well, you have to listen.

I’m going to miss working with SBYF. I’m going to miss being able to connect with an entire generation of people through a common chain of stories and experiences that people from my generation will simply never know or quite understand. I’m going to miss how excited they get when they find out that someone else cares about their stories. How they are suddenly anchored to you emotionally because suddenly there’s another human being who cares about them. It was an experience I’m going to treasure for the rest of my life. It’ll be one of those things that, when I’m older, I’ll think about my time here and simply smile at the thought of it. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to do this.

-Kat Kapetanakis

SOME OF HER WORK (click to enlarge):

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