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From Pakistan to Springfield

By Ginny Barrett

The Connection

Meena Mould has

been listening to

and telling stories all her life, so when she heard that the Smithsonian was looking for storytellers for their “Adventures of Hamza” exhibit, she jumped at the opportunity to audition.

As a child in Pakistan, she was exposed to traditional-style storytelling which brings families together in ways that television and computers do not.

Mould, who is Bengali and originally from Pakistan, has a strong cultural heritage and Islamic background and connects deeply with the exhibit. “The Adventures of Hamza” is an adventure story based loosely on the exploits of Hamza, an uncle of the Prophet Muhammad, who traveled throughout the world spreading the teachings of Islam. The paintings in the exhibit are illustrations of this story, commissioned by the Mughal emperor Akbar in the mid- to late-16th century in India.

“We did this because this is what the paintings were made for. The whole purpose was to tell stories about them,” said Joanna Pecori, who works in the gallery’s education department. The storytelling has been popular with museum patrons; she has overheard people in the adjoining Freer Gallery telling other patrons, “You have to go see the storytelling session.”

Of Mould, she said, “People are stunned, walking through the exhibit and seeing this beautiful woman in the galleries telling captivating stories.”

“THIS IS A GREAT THING for them to have here, especially for the kids,” said exhibit patron Varna Manicka of Sterling, who was there with her son Ashwin. They were walking through the exhibit and were intrigued when they saw that day’s storyteller at work. “We’re of Indian background,” Manicka continued, “and this was like listening to my grandfather telling stories.” Manicka is not the only one to have this experience. Pecori related the comments of one older man from South Asia, who said that the storytelling took him back to his childhood.

The storytellers at the exhibit write their own stories based on the illustrations on display at the gallery. In traditional Mughal style, they take these illustrations and create details about the characters and objects depicted, weaving tales with changing points of view and structures with which the average American audience may be unfamiliar. “It’s not like an American story, with a beginning, middle, and end,” she said; the stories are intricate and draw the audience in and out.

THIS STINT AT THE SACKLER GALLERY, however, is Mould’s first live performance work in America.

“This is an ideal place,” she said. “It inspires me.”

Mould has lived in the Springfield area for 12 years. Originally from Pakistan, she has spent time in Denmark, England, Indonesia, India, and Afghanistan. She received her master’s degree in English literature and did post-graduate work in ESL as well as studying broadcasting in London.

After all the traveling she has done, though, Mould remains a fan of this area. “I love Springfield; it’s home to me. I wouldn’t want to change anything.”

MOULD WILL BE TELLING stories at the Sackler Gallery every Thursday and Friday at 11 a.m., noon, and 1 p.m. through Sept. 27, as well as some Sundays. Check the Sackler Gallery website at http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/hamza.htm.

Weddings

Bounaccorsi, Boyce married

Mr. and Mrs. Paul and Rena Buonaccorsi are pleased to announce the marriage of Miss Noelle Boyce to Mr. Michael Bounaccorsi on Aug. 3, 2002, at Olivet Episcopal Church. The Reverend Robert L. Tedesco officiated.

The bride is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William and Paricia Boyce of Springfield. The groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul and Rena Buonaccorsi of Accokeek, Maryland.

Miss Lauren Brooke Boyce, sister of the bride, was maid of honor. The bridesmaids were Miss Angela Buonaccorsi of Accokeek, sister of the groom, and Kelly Kriss of Irwin, Pennsylvania. Misses Rebecca and Molly McDaniel, both of Frederick, Maryland and cousins of the bride, were flower girls. Mr. Jonathon Potts of Ft. Washington, Maryland was the best man. Mr. Donald Zustof Accokeek was a groomsman. Mr. Joshua Daniel, cousin of the bride, was the ring bearer.

The bride graduated from Robert E. Lee High school in 1996, and George Mason University in 2000 with a degree in Psychology. The groom graduated from Gwynn Park High School in 1995, and Virginia tech in 1999 with a degree in computer science. The reception was held at the Springfield Hilton. The couple will reside in Fairfax.

Harrison Wins Essay Contest for Deaf Students

Quishauna Harrison of W.T. Woodson High School was one of four students who received commendable awards in the fourth annual Gallaudet National Essay Contest for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students. Harrison wrote, “We’ve Come a Long Way!” and said, “And working together, we [deaf and hard of hearing people] will continue to go even further.”

Over 100 essays were received from deaf and hard of hearing students around the country.

Gallaudet University’s Department of Enrollment Services and the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center sponsor the Gallaudet National Essay Contest to encourage deaf and hard of hearing high school students to aspire to higher literary achievements.

Winning essays were published in the Clerc Center’s Spring/Summer 2002 World Around You magazine. Winners also received a copy of Douglas Tilden: The Man and His Legacy, the biography of a deaf artist whose sculptures still stand in San Francisco, donated by the Mildred Albronda Memorial Trust.

People Notes

Vicki F. Miller has joined The Preservation Alliance of Virginia as Programs Coordinator, replacing Ms. Sheryl Spomer, effective Aug. 13. Ms. Spomer has accepted the position of professor of interior design at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania, and will begin her position there on Sept. 3. Ms. Miller has been Executive Director of the Westmoreland County Museum in Montross for over three years, where she was insturmental in the development of exhibitions and supporting programs that focused on the lives of the people of the community. She also developed an advisory council to provide salient advice to the museum’s Board of Directors. In addition, she has worked closely with the Northern Neck and Westmoreland County Tourism councils to promote cultural tourism in the area.

Ms. Laurie Peterson, past Vice President and Director of Membership for the Virginia Retail Merchants Association, has accepted the position of President. The Virginia Retail Merhcants Association was formed in 1905 for the purpose of improving the business climate in Virginia for the retail industry. Representing the interest of the VRMA membership, Ms. Peterson recently gave testimony to a Task Force of the Joint Subcommittee to Study and Revise Virginia’s State Tax Code, and currently serves on the Identify Theft Task Force created by Attorney General Kilgore.

Around Town

The Maryland Twisters, based in Glen Burnie, MD., will be merging with the three teams comprising the cheer portion of Rhythm & Cheer of Springfield. The Springfield cheerleading squads will now be known as the VA Twisters. Staff from the MD United Cheer and Tumble Gym, where the MD Twisters train, will commute to Virginia to assist with the tumbling and choreography at the Alban Road facility. Try-outs for the cheerleading programs are ongoing. Call Sheryl at 703-627-9569. Ages 4 and up with all skill levels are welcome.