Dispatches from the Moth · Posted On: Dec 08, 2020

Storytelling School with The Moth: Storytelling Activity #32

by Moth EDU

Lesson #32: DETAILS: "Pearls, Popped Collars, and a Guyanese American"- Ann Jankie

It’s the last 2020 Storytelling School with The Moth! So glad we made it and don’t forget to come see us in 2021. As we all adjust to the new normal, we hope these posts have been something to look forward to and given you a burst of joy and empathy. The Moth’s EDU team is here for you! For this month’s blog, we’re taking a look at a story about letting go of judgment and loving where you’re from.

This month’s Storytelling School story is:

“Pearls, Popped Collars, and a Guyanese American” by Ann Jankie

You can read the transcript of Ann’s story here.

After you’ve watched and read the story, you can do the following activities: 

Talk to each other about Ann’s story. 

For each post, we’ll highlight a different crafting strategy for how to make your story compelling. For this post, we’ll focus on DETAILS. For a story to be really compelling, the listener has to feel like they’re with the teller in the moment and that requires attention to detail!

  • Ann gives us such a vivid portrait of her father. She could simply tell us that he was ‘outgoing’ or ‘embarrassing’, but she goes much further than that and really shows* us with clear examples what their relationship looks like. What are some of the things we learn about Ann’s father in this story?
  • What details does Ann tell us about the culture and demographics of her school? How does this inform the context for her recent experiences with racism?
  • In what other ways does Ann ‘set the scene’ in her story? What details could you really picture as you listened?

*See this previous blog post on the principle “SHOW VS. TELL”

Write or tell your own story.

At The Moth, we believe in celebrating the diversity and commonality of human experience. Often, listening to someone’s story will remind us of a story from our own lives. While you almost definitely have not had Ann’s exact experience, it still may have reminded you of a story from your own life. Get inspired by these prompt questions to tell your own story!

  • Tell us about a time your heart sank

  • Tell us about a time you were among peers who were different from you

  • Tell us about a time you tried to fit in

  • Tell us about a time you got a huge wake up call

  • Tell us about a time you felt threatened 

  • Tell us about a time a trusted person gave you advice that you carry with you

  • Tell us about a time felt like you’d never truly belong

  • Tell us about a time someone in your family embarrassed you

  • Tell us about a time you felt like you could be yourself

  • Tell us about a time you realized it didn’t matter what anyone thought 


  • What’s the most embarrassing thing your parents or family members have done? Share that story with them and see how they remember it. Or maybe they have an even more embarrassing story!

  • It can be really easy to think too hard about what other people think of us. Here is an activity to help you remember how awesome you are! 

    • Draw a self portrait and then draw lines in it to divide it up into sections. In each section, write something that you love about yourself: like a hobby or skill you’re good at (basketball, baking), a personality quality (funny, kind), or even just something you love (your cat, music)!

    • Check out some examples and more instructions here

Share this post with a friend!

And check back the second Tuesday of every month for another story.

Storyteller bio

Ann Jankie boarding school experience inspired her passion for youth development and she remains committed to working with children in underserved communities. She resides in Brooklyn, NY where she works as an Assistant Principal and spends all of her free time with her lovely family.

The Moth Education Program works with young people and educators to build community through storytelling workshops, performances and innovative resources. To learn more, visit themoth.org/education

The Moth Education Program is made possible by generous support from The Kresge Foundation, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the Kate Spade New York Foundation, and Alice Gottesman. 

Additional program support is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the New York State Council on the Arts, ConEdison, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.