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Debut: Spotlight on Youth-Fusion of Storytelling and Play February

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Debut: Spotlight on Youth-Fusion of Storytelling and Play February


Debut is partnering with Artists Standing Strong Together and their Youth Standing Strong Camp (YSSC) organized by Professional Storyteller Andrea Kamens, a member of the Debut Family.   The Youth Tellers at this show have all enjoyed at least one week at this amazing camp, being mentored by professional tellers and sharing their stories.    At Debut we believe in the power and strength and community in youth storytelling.  We thank all the mentors who work with these youth.  We thank all the families that help them move on with the storytelling process.

We are honored to have these talented tellers at Debut.

Proceeds from this special Debut will benefit the tellers, Artist Standing Strong Together and the work of Debut.  

Debut is a fusion of storytelling, story making, play, coaching, and community. Four Youth Storytellers will tell a story that they are debuting. This month, the talented Youth Storytellers are Raya Schulman, Nabeel Qasem, Naysa Punhani, and Hajar Ismael.    The story they tell has never been told in public.

We believe that the first telling can be a wonderful shared experience. The motto is "There is beauty in the beginning." This is the beginning of each tellers’ stories. It will be inviting.

Then, Story Coach (Mediator) Dr. Kevin Cordi, author of Playing with Stories: Story Crafting for Writers, Teachers, and Other Imaginative Thinkers will lead these storytellers as they play with this new story.  Kevin will use proven playful practices and audience members will experience new ways they could work with their own stories.

About Our Talented Youth Tellers 


Raya Schulman

Raya is an 11 year old who resides in Boston, Massachusetts. She has attended Youth Standing Strong Camp many times.  She has been active in their programming and you will soon notice that when she tells stories, hold on to your seats because it will be an adventure to remember.  

Nabeel Qasem

Nabeel is 13 years old and is from Bahrain.  He can be found on the storytelling and sports field.  He loves football (soccer to some), biking, and swimming.  You also may find him inside because he is fond of video games and loves to read.  I am sure his new tale may hint of his many exploits, perhaps in fiction or non-fiction.  One ever knows when Nabeel is sharing a story! 

Naysa Punhani

Naysa is 14 years old, and she is Grade 9 Delhi Public School PK Puram in India.   She has been actively working toward addressing issues, challenges, and misnomers associated with mental health, especially in the context of judgement, perception, and fear.  She runs a successful podcast under the name--OpenUpBySolfa.  She is a published author of three books, two that are anthologies and one of her poetry.  She is a Grade 6 Vocalist and is training with Rock School London.   She works with seasoned mentors in storytelling, and finds guidance in training forms such as YSSC, ASST, and Gail's Saturday Circle.

Hajar Ismael

Hajar is 11 years old and lives in Rockville, Maryland.  She is the oldest child and has three siblings.  She loves to read, cook, draw, and take care of younger kids.  She wrote her first story, "Forget it not," at the young age of eight and performed it to standing ovations in front of hundreds at a Kwanza celebration organized by the Griots Circle of Maryland.  She has been learning to advance her storytelling since that event. She advocates for social justice and would like to study Mathematics and aoerospatial sciences like her two heroes, Mathematician Katherine Johnson and oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.


Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "The world belongs to the energetic."  As one can see, these talented youth tellers have tons of energy and we have the honor of listening to them.  Please join with us as we honor youth tellers, youth, and programs that build young people to know what we know: the stories you tell are invaluable.  Let us hear these new stories as these amazing youth debut their stories. 





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Kevin Cordi

Kevin Cordi

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