I’m Kathryn Van Auken (pronounced van awwwwwwken) and I’m a storyteller.
It all began with an eight-year-old me living in the middle of Sudan during a military coup.
Allow me to explain:
My dad was an engineer and he worked on a sugar processing plant in Khartoum that was expected to last several years, so naturally, he wanted his family along. As an eight-year-old who had spent most of her life up to that point in the American South, moving to Sudan and the enormous culture shock that came with it, left quite an impression. Oh yeah, and there was a revolution going on there too.
When we later came back to Texas, I had enough material for show and tell to last until high school, if I needed it. I would tell stories about our experiences and the people I met in Africa and I brought in ebony carvings, beaded jugs, tons of photos of me with camels and I would write my name in Arabic on the chalkboard. This, of course, blew Mary Jane’s trip to Disneyland out of the water.
Kids and teachers were fascinated by me and begged me to tell them stories about our life in Sudan over and over again. The popularity and attention I received taught me that storytelling was fun and rewarding. I told my stories so often that I learned about timing and punching them up in just the right places. Capturing others imaginations and interest was exciting, and I knew then that telling stories was going to be my thing.
I’ve been telling stories ever since.
Whether being told around a campfire or read to us when tucked into bed as kids or when we’re binging on Netflix, stories are how we are entertained, educated and inspired and I want to be a part of that.
My experiences have certainly been different since living in Sudan, but I think they are just as interesting in their ways. And while I still like to grab someone’s attention, today I like to affirm to others that they are not alone, especially when it comes to grief. It’s so easy to feel isolated in our hyper-connected world where true authenticity is hard to find, and I want to tell stories filled with honesty and sometimes humor based on our shared human experiences.
So that’s what I do. I tell stories, so others feel less alone and for us all to be more connected.
Where You Can Stalk Me: