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A vibrant cultural hub for kids in Washington

Words by Smiley Team

Sharing our stories brings us closer together as people. Being able to share our experiences allows us to be heard, and a lot of the time, that comes through in our own cultural expression. This is something that Oye Palaver Hut founder and executive director Vera Oyé Yaa-Anna knows very well. 

“I'm a storyteller – professionally, that's what I do,” Oyé Yaa-Anna tells Smiley News. “I enjoy teaching children how to do the same thing. I wanted them to share their personal stories.”

Oyé Yaa-Anna is from Liberia, a country founded by former slaves to the United States, and uses her culture to inspire her work.

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“In Africa, everybody's a storyteller,” says Oyé Yaa-Anna. “So at the age of three, you start telling stories, and you get up you introduce yourself, and you tell the story. Everybody applauds and you're happy. And so this is one way of, getting us to share our thoughts and to be calm, become a part of your culture.”

In many African countries, the "palaver hut" is a community hub where people meet up and discuss the goings-on in the community as well as share stories. “The vibrant cultural hub of the community,” as Oye Palaver Hut’s website puts it. That’s just the type of thing that Oyé Yaa-Anna wants to provide to kids in the Washington D.C. area.

One of the goals of her work is to provide kids an outlet to express themselves and learn.