Dispatches from the Moth · Posted On: Feb 14, 2023

Storytelling School with The Moth: Monthly Storytelling Activity Lesson #55: HISTORY “The Loudest Whisper”

by The Moth Staff

Welcome back to Storytelling School and Happy New Year! We’re starting this year off with a story from our good friend, Devan Sandiford. Devan told his first Moth story in 2019 and has become a prolific storyteller who brings his skills and heart to our Community Engagement (CE) program on the regular. Our Community Engagement (CE) program partners with community organizations, cultural institutions and non-profits to host workshops that inspire confidence and self-reflection, and deepen connections within and between communities. You can learn more about CE here.

Devan shared this story with us at a StorySLAM where the theme was ‘fraud.’ 

This month’s Storytelling School story is:

“The Loudest Whisper” by Devan Sandiford

After you’ve watched and read the story, you can do the following activities: 
Talk to each other about Devan’s story. 
In each post, we highlight a different crafting strategy for how to make your story compelling. For this post, we’ll focus on HISTORY. Our stories are not independent of other peoples’ stories - there are layers of personal and historical context that are often essential to weave in so our listeners understand the greater stakes. The stories of discrimination that Devan shares with his son (and with us) are part of a deeply personal shared history that give this story depth and meaning that transcends his individual experience.

Discussion questions:

  • Devan talks about trying to prepare his son for being brown in the world. How does he use personal and U.S. history to do that? 
  • Devan tells his son about the power of stories- even small ones. Can you think of a time in history or your own life when a small moment had a big impact? 

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 Devan’s exact experience, it still may have reminded you of a story from your life. Get inspired by these prompt questions to tell your own story!

  • Tell us about a time you tried to make the world a better place
  • Tell us about a time your child or someone who looks up to you asked a hard question
  • Tell us about a time you had a lesson to teach
  • Tell us about a time you were profiled because of some part of your identity 
  • Tell us about a time you felt your words didn’t matter
  • Tell us about a time someone assumed the worst about you 
  • Tell us about a time you admitted you were wrong
  • Tell us about a time you truly understood the power of a story


  • Come up with a list of moments that have changed your life/made you into the person you are today. What do you notice about them? If you’re feeling especially creative, turn one of these moments into a comic strip.
  • Create a map of your life! Draw out a timeline of significant events, places, and people you’ve come across on your journey. What comes up for you?
    • BONUS: Draw the bigger moments as bigger pictures/fonts, and the smaller moments as smaller pictures/fonts. Are there any events that have changed in size? Does any of that surprise you?

Share this post with a friend!
And check back on the second Tuesday of every month for another story.

Storyteller bio
Devan Sandiford is a writer, storyteller, and public speaker living in Brooklyn, NY. Devan has been featured in the Washington Post, Speak Up Storytelling, The Womanity Project, Writing Class Radio, and the Love Hurts Podcast. He is also the founder of Unreeling Storytelling, which provides a platform and workshops for hidden perspectives.

Tag on social: @devansandiford (IG)

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 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the Kate Spade New York Foundation, and Alice Gottesman, and The Paul & Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation.

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.