Storytelling Class (Virtual Edition)

 
Many of us feel like we don’t have stories. That we’re not interesting. That no one would want to hear what we have to say. That our stories don’t matter compared to others’ stories. Many of us have stories but we’re scared to write and share them. Because of whom we may hurt. Because of what you may think of us. Because of what the digging may unearth. Some of us know we have meaningful stories and we’re chomping at the bit to spotlight them, we just haven’t yet had the opportunity.
 
This is an empowering intimate class for those with “no stories” or “uninteresting” stories, or for those who simply want space for community, words, and self (with a dash of challenging yourself to push through any fear or discomfort). This is a writing and sharing-intensive virtual class that meets weekly for eight weeks that culminates in a showcase, a public sharing of student stories.
 
 

Black Lives Matter Storytelling Scholarship

With the tragic events of George Floyd’s death and the ensuing aftermath, a White person reached out — 

“I’m interested in providing a scholarship to a Black participant. I feel like your storytelling class has done a great job at helping people find their stories and tell them to the world, and I think now is the time to elevate Black voices.”

Within seven minutes, another person offered another full scholarship. A few more minutes, another. And another. And another. If you’re “another” and would like to gift a scholarship ($365), fill this out and Mac & Cheese will be in touch if someone is in need.

If you’re interested in receiving a BLM Scholarship, head here.

 


Upcoming Class Registration

All classes are virtual (for now). If it says “Join Waitlist” in the registration box, that means that section is full. If you don’t see an upcoming class, stay tuned!

Winter 2021 Class, Mondays, January 4th – February 22nd, 5:30pm to 8:30pm CDT — Facebook Event

Highly suggested that you check out the detail below before registering so you know what to expect and so you can suss out if this is indeed the perfect fit. There are no refunds so make sure you can join before registering.

Testimonials

"I've always loved stories but have never devoted much time to writing my own. This class forced that to happen and it was beautiful. Magic happens as you become vulnerable, heed your classmate's suggestions (sometimes!), and edit, edit, and edit some more. It's remarkable how much better a story can become with a little work and how fun it can be to do that work. I think I might have a new hobby. Saya created a warm, welcoming environment for us to learn and grown. It was the highlight of my week. Truly. Thank you Saya!"
“One of the best workshops I have ever been a part of. Saya created such a giving and positive environment that made me feel both pushed and protected. The very nature of the program encourages you to say yes to all the power and possibilities of yourself. It was truly life changing.”
“I thought I was signing up for a virtual writing workshop, but the experience was a gift that gave so much more than I expected. Saya did a great job of easing us into writing (regardless of skill level) and guiding us with tools to be helpful along the way. With the loving support and thoughtful feedback from this intimate group of women and gentle nudges from Saya, it felt safe and easier to share. I left every class empowered and inspired by the collective of experience and wisdom in the group. This experience was therapeutic and has opened me creatively and emotionally.”
"I've been writing for the better part of my life, including having pursued a minor in Creative Non-Fiction at Columbia College Chicago. This workshop class surpassed the entirety of the workshop classes I took as an undergrad. It was an immense joy to not be one of a scant handful or the only Black writer in a class. My writing cohort was nothing short of brilliant -- spending nine weeks working with some of the best writers and storytellers I've ever come across really helped me to feel confident enough to write and engage with language in ways I haven't been able to do until this workshop. This was, hands down, one of the best experiences of my writing life and certainly the highlight in an incredibly awful year. I cannot thank Saya enough for creating this transformative space for Black writers and for her masterful and accessible teaching of storytelling craft. Thank you!"
“Before I entered the storytelling class, I didn't really know how to tell my story. In fact, I didn't really think my experiences were that interesting. I loved that this class completely proved me wrong. I learned to not only tell my story but also to listen to and respect other people's stories as well. This is such a unique opportunity for anyone who is feeling inclined to get their story out into the world! If anyone needs a cheer squad or support system, this is also a great class to take!”
“Freedom is the superpower you gain when you tell your story to a room full of strangers. Whether it's you taking time out of your busy schedule to concentrate on yourself, telling your story in a safe space, getting constructive feedback on your writings, or getting over the awkwardness of hearing your own voice, no matter where you are on the writing/storytelling spectrum you'll benefit from this course. There's also great satisfaction in seeing the growth in your, and your classmate's writing.”
“So many feels and emotions are involved with (class). I was searching for an outlet to healthily invest in my talents. Insert storytelling with Mac & Cheese Productions. For 3 hours a "night/morning" for me in South Africa, I would have camaraderie and instruction. Not only that but throughout the weeks I would also have responsibilities and homework to dedicate myself. This was hands down one of the best experiences of my life during one of the craziest years of all time. I am ETERNALLY grateful. I was looking for an opportunity to fly and you gave me wings.”
“My energy is different since participating in Saya's storytelling class. I feel more gratitude, respect, joy and peace with myself and others. Saya and 7 lovely women empowered and encouraged me with their vulnerability and constructive feedback. After hearing Saya and my lovely classmates be transparent about themselves, I knew I was in a no judgment zone. Every week we surprised, commiserated, applauded, cried and laughed with each other!”
“Thanks so much for the assignments and the way you designed the class. I took a chance on M&C and it turned out very well. I especially enjoyed the notes you wrote on my stories. You have a knack for critique. And I take your words as valuable because they are. Also enjoyed my classmates mucho…and their stories…also mucho. And being in M&C good vibes and comfortable. I learned A LOT; more than I expected.”
“If I could summarize my experience in one word: magical. At the end of every session I left feeling inspired, uplifted and more confident in my storytelling abilities. Not only do I feel more hopeful to continue pursuing a career in communications, but the personal growth I gained is priceless. This will forever be an experience I will never forget! Saya, you have created something beautiful here - a platform for people to come together, be vulnerable, grow, learn, laugh and even cry a little but be totally okay with it because of the level of comfort you've built.”
“I did not realize what a treat I was in for. I learned so much about the other participants and about myself that will always stay with me and has changed me for the better. The experience was soul opening and inspiring and I wholeheartedly recommend and thank Mac & Cheese for the opportunity for fellowship and and stretch myself.”
"Throughout the weeks, as we shared some very personal and poignant details about our lives, we also saw common threads that connected us. I will forever be grateful for this experience and the opportunity to meet (even though virtually) these fabulous women."
“I am extremely grateful to Saya for creating and running the Mac & Cheese Storytelling Class and the endless encouragement. Participating in this class made me look at myself in a different way. Even though it is now done, it’s still slowly chipping away at the wall I have around my vulnerability. It gave me an opportunity to examine where I am and put me on a path to acceptance and moving on.”
“I came into this to learn how to become a better writer; I walked away with more than that. This class gave me the courage to share my story authentically. Being in the course helped me see that I am a writer. Saya always made sure that we knew that. She’s created an environment where one doesn't have a choice but to grow. With the detailed notes, assigned readings, homework, and most importantly, Saya's encouragement, you can succeed in this course. I would recommend this class to anyone. (It) allowed me to grasp how storytelling and writing can be applied in my business and everyday life.”
“Thank you so much for all the amazing work you put into this class. It has been such a source of joy for me.”

Required Materials

  • analog or digital note-taking materials
  • internet
  • the most updated Zoom app
  • a device with a camera (laptop, desktop, tablet, phone) that can connect to the internet
  • a quiet space

Other Requirements

  • on time attendance at every class
  • focused time outside of class to write and read every week
  • willingness to critique and be critiqued
  • showcase participation (both inviting people and sharing your story)
  • being on camera and active participation in class

Background

An art form that’s been in existence since the beginning of time yet is the current “hot” tool for sales, marketing, networking, public speaking… The world has discovered the magic that is sharing a story. You know those people who make it look so easy? Where “it” is everything? They’re more often than not good storytellers. They have an easier time making friends, dating, getting hired, getting promoted, managing, leading…

The best communicators are conversational. The best leaders are the ones that compel and inspire, achieved through fostering trust and connecting with others on an emotional level. Data, facts, and stats are easily forgotten; the key to being memorable is emotion. Enter the sticky tool of storytelling — what you hear sticks with you (and those with whom you share the story).

Why do people take this class?

  • (re)discover a muted voice
  • (re)instate creativity in life
  • do something for themselves
  • connect with others
  • connect with self
  • face a fear — performance, imposter syndrome (I’m not a writer! I’m not a storyteller!), sharing insides, being vulnerable, digging deep into your own life, being on more Zoom…
  • forced to write
  • learn/hone a different way to communicate
  • something new
  • “storytelling” is THE art-form du jour

This is a non-fiction class where you are the inspiration for what you pen and the meat of class material is what you and your classmates pen. Don’t worry if you think there’s nothing within you from which to be inspired. There is. You’ll be led through brainstorming activities, you’ll read and critique the stories of your classmates, and you’ll write and share your own narrative. Class is intimate and workshop’y to allow for a high-level of participation and attention. We’ll also spend time on the art of performance storytelling — what to do when you’re on stage and in the spotlight.

At the end of our time together, we’ll have a showcase where everyone will share a story publicly to both have the benefits of our stories travel beyond our walls and ourselves and to challenge ourselves to face the fear of public speaking and opening up in front of loved ones and strangers. The showcase is a warm hug of an experience where nothing but love and cheers fill the space. As it’s much more impactful and fun (even if it’s scary-fun) to share in front of a packed “room,” everyone is asked to invite widely.

Instructor

When Saya used to try to fit in — which as an amazonian biracial Black Jew with a single mom, homemade clothes, and bike for a car was difficult — she was miserable. Since learning the power of voice and vulnerability, she is a master at getting others to push themselves and “Me too!”, and now embraces her literal and figurative stretch marks. Often through the spoken and written word.

A proud Boston College English and Sociology major, Saya loves to combine her superpowers of storytelling and an ability to connect people and get them to see the goodness within. She’s keynoted conferences, shared a TEDx talk, and participated in various performances from the Chicago Women’s Funny Festival to Listen To Your Mother to Fear Experiment℠. For years, she’s guided people in personal journeys to increased self-confidence and personal fulfillment. And taking that journey through writing and storytelling? The best.

She’s run her business, Mac & Cheese Productions℠, since 2004. Mac & Cheese creates virtual and in-person spaces that build connection: to others, to opportunities, to self. A space for those without a space. A space for those who want to renovate their space. A space for those who want to share their space. Mac & Cheese inspires groups and individuals to learn, grow, and become better versions of themselves and you to take charge of your life.