Seeking Family Storytelling Judges

Learning Life seeks existing groups of people in the USA and abroad interested in family, world affairs, and/or storytelling for an extraordinary opportunity: serving as volunteer judges for the family storytelling performances of international family diplomacy (FD) trainees in October 2022. 

From July 10 to October 23 this year, Learning Life, a Washington DC-based educational nonprofit, is training its first cohort of FD trainees, culminating in their family storytelling performances in October live online to audiences of judges.  The July-October training is part of Learning Life’s Family Diplomacy Initiative.  FDI is an ambitious, long-term effort to connect, train and empower families to participate in decision-making at local to global levels.  We envision a world more connected and caring because every family has one or more family diplomats, and those citizen diplomats advocate via nonprofits, businesses, media and governments for the needs, concerns and aspirations of families worldwide. 

The ability to tell family stories effectively is one powerful way to speak to family needs, concerns and aspirations.  Hence, in July-October, the FD trainees will each create their own story about their own family or a family they know, connect it to a wider issue or topic (happiness or depression, health, love, drug abuse, violence, poverty, wealth, inequality or equality, immigration, refugee crises, faith and religion, gay rights, climate change, war and/or peace, etc.), practice their stories together in weekly meetings, culminating in performance of their stories to a live audience of ordinary people who will serve as the storytelling judges.  The storytellers who receive the highest scores from their judges will receive cash awards.  Hence, Learning Life is now recruiting (a) FD trainees to learn about family storytelling as well as citizen diplomacy and what is happening with/to families worldwide, and (b) FD storytelling judges.  For details on the FD trainee opportunity, click here. For details about volunteering as a group of storytelling judges, please read on.   

What is involved?

Judging is not a time-demanding task.  It requires a minimum of about 3 hours and a maximum of about 6 hours, composed of the following:

  1. On a date and time in September or October for the group, the judges will meet for about 30-60 minutes via Zoom with a Learning Life staff member to (a) learn how to judge the family storytelling performances using a simple online scoring rubric, and (b) discuss audio-visual and any other logistical preparations.  Judges will also then be able to ask any questions they have about FDI, or the scoring process.  
  2. On one, two or three dates and times in October that works for the group, the judges will meet for 45 minutes to 1.5 hours each time to hear and score the family stories (each story 5 minutes max) of 4-8 FD trainees from different countries.  The storytellers will tell their stories in English.  Each judge will independently score each story using a scoring sheet that can be printed out or filled in on the internet using their cell phone, then proceed together to the next story. After the storytelling and scoring, the judges will have an opportunity to ask the storytellers questions and hold a discussion to learn more about the storytellers and their families, and have a discussion moderated by a Learning Life staff member and/or a member of the group of judges.  It is up to the judging group to determine if they wish to commit to 1, 2 or 3 storytelling sessions.   

If all goes well, and each group of judges is willing, they will have the opportunity to judge future cohorts of FDI family storytellers in subsequent years as Learning Life deepens and expands our FD training program.   

What are the benefits?

Judges get the opportunity to connect with people from different countries and walks of life, learn about their families, reflect cross-culturally about family life, and help support the training of family diplomats for a more caring world.  

What do judges need to qualify?

Groups of judges must:

  1. Speak English at an advanced to fluent level. 
  2. Be existing formal organizations or associations of people with explicit interest in world affairs, family, and/or storytelling.  The group must have at least ten individual members able and willing to participate.  These groups can be mothers/fathers/parents or family clubs, international affairs associations, performing arts or storytelling groups, high school or college classes, or else.  No storytelling or judging experience is required. 
  3. Have one person from your group who will take the lead in communicating with Learning Life staff and collecting and reporting your group’s scores.
  4. Have a public or private room (e.g., in a library, or someone’s home) to meet that is quiet, and visually non-distracting. The room should ideally have a screen on which you can project a live Zoom session and audio strong enough to listen to storytellers, or otherwise one person’s computer around which your group can gather to watch and listen clearly to the storytellers.      
How do we get involved?

Is your group interested in serving as storytelling judges, or do you have questions?  Contact us at

Know someone interested in participating as a storytelling FD trainee?  They can click here for more information.