" I want to thank you personally for the role you played at our commencement. [Your raw silk metaphor was profound.] You were more than a speaker. You were a force, a voice, a movement. You have already changed the fabric of our institution, making us realize the breathtaking beauty of our own, at times, very raw silk"
- Ralph Hexter, President, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA
"Thank you for sharing your stories with the residents of Stearns and James dormitories. The storytelling event proved to be a resounding success. The students who attended enjoyed all of your stories and especially the manner in which you told them. The intimate atmosphere you helped create was also special for all those present. We hope you enjoyed the event as much as we did. We want you to return for another night of storytelling." - Resident Counselors, Amherst College
"Critics and fans of Onawumi's work ultimately agree that her presentations are shaped by rich content, soulful rhythms and impeccable delivery; she is a natural talent who takes a disciplined approach to craft. Using everything at her disposal--dramatic oral and a cappella mastery, graceful movements, mesmerizing facial expressions, incredible spontaneity--she transports listeners into worlds of the courageous, adventurous, the scheming and the charming. She has an uncanny way of leaving her listeners with something of interest to contemplate and a "craving" for more. That she is increasingly touted for being a powerful and eloquent storyteller/presenter is a 'no-brainer'. Quite frankly, Onawumi is a must-have experience."
- E. Patrick Johnson, Associate Professor, African American and Performance Studies, Northwestern University, IL.
"As a librarian, I applaud and appreciate your exploration of themes of how it is that we know what we know, how knowledge is often "stolen" from its legitimate sources and published in book form. You helped us to think critically about sources we so often refer people to in our day-to-day work. But most of all, I appreciate the way you were able to engage us actively through your exceptional storytelling talent." - Reference Librarian and Outreach Specialist, University of Massachusetts Amherst
" I know I speak for all of us at Cambridge College when I share with you my praise for your presentation last month. Motivational just barely captures the spirit and energy of your presence here. As I watched the students captivated by your words, I was not surprised when they lined up and waited just to say hello and have you sign their programs. Not only did you touch their minds, but you touched their hearts; you spoke to them about their lives, their hopes, and their dreams for a better tomorrow." - GSP Coordinator, Cambridge College
"Onawumi, you were great! We plan to invite you back next year. Here is a sample of evaluative comments made by principals, teachers, librarians and counselors (middle school-high school) in your audience:
- " Thought provoking! Provided me with awareness to value and treasure my own family experiences.
- "Onawumi's performance may have been the most impactful event of the entire summer program."
- "Personality, grace, enthusiam, style, humor, insight, inspirational and fun! Fantastic!
- "This was a spiritually overwhelming experience. Please bring her back again."
- "From Onawumi, I got the gift of my own voice. I want her to come to my high school. Thank you." - Leslie Tustin, Conference Coordinator, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Onawumi's performance was riveting; she received the equivalent of "two thumbs up" (excellent) in each category on the rating form. I think she is wonderful! One of the best programs I have brought to campus, I look forward to bringing her back! - Susan Antonnelli, Assistant Dean Of Student Activities, Wheelock College
• What Storytelling Concerts/Festival Sponsors say about Onawumi!
"Thank you Onawumi...you were a big hit. What a wonderful teller! You brought just the dimension to each of your appearances that we had hoped for. My favorite was your story about the little girl who sold her soul to the devil. The child in you is alive and well. I am enthralled with the music you weave into your stories using the contrapuntal measure. I find myself singing, 'No weapon formed against me shall prosper.' Teach me how to do that!! It is brilliant." - Peg O'Sullivan, Festival Director, Connecticut Storytelling Center
"Onawumi, it is with a heart full of gratitude that I thank you for being a part of the 30th Annual National Storytelling Festival...I have heard many comments about your superb stories...congratulations. Thank you for a weekend of very fine telling." - Susan O'Connor, Director of Programs, International Storytelling Center, Jonesborough, TN
"I have been working through the many camp and workshop evaluations...the WOWs are there again and again. People commented on your warmth and knowledge and passion for your subject.
Here are just a few soundbites:
• 'She is terrific! What a wise woman!'
• 'Rich content. We really learned about another culture'
• ' Well structured and organized. I couldn't believe we covered so much!'
• ' Stories were born today in this workshop' • 'Fantastic, valuable, energizing and fun!'"
"It is not easy to keep 400 seventh graders attentive at the end of a long day, but that is just what Onawumi did. She began by rapping an introduction to who she was and what she does. Several students were able to join her in the center of the room. Immediately, students were engaged and having fun. They knew she was a person they could relate to. The stories she told were relevant to our curriculum and our students' personal lives. Students observed and adopted important oral presenting techniques based on Onawumi's storytelling style; voice level, eye contact and movements." - Lynn Podosek, 7th Grade Teacher, Amherst Pelham Regional Schools, Amherst, MA
"We loved it when you came to Touchstone:
• Your voice was cool
• It was great the way you played all the parts of the animals and that's the way they really would sound
• We liked it when you sang.
• We could picture what was happening by the way you acted it out.
• We would love to have you back again sometime" - Voices from Ms. Hazzard Class (8, 9, 10 year-olds ), Touchstone Community School, Grafton, MA
"Our students, parents and teachers thoroughly enjoyed your stories...they were thoughtfully selected and eloquently told. Your facial expressions and movements added so much to your performance." - President of Parent, Teacher Organization, Jackson Street School.
• What Community/Civic and Religious Program Sponsors say about Onawumi!
"In this year of both national and international turmoil, Onawumi was keynote speaker for our upper school's Martin Luther King Day celebration. Her presentation emphasized: the power of one to bring about change, sacrifices being made by Americans to preserve freedom (at home and on foreign soil) and the eminent threat of endangering those freedoms if we become apathetic. Her's was possibly the most poignant message of the year however it was not gloomy. The intellectual quality of her presentation in combination with her contagious energy, subtle humor and dynamic performance style inspired greater confidence in our ability to 'have a say' about conditions in our world. The lasting effects cannot be denied, months later, MANY students still consider her the "best" of this year's speakers!" - Susanna White, Assistant Dean of Residential Life, The Williston Northampton School , MA.
"As producers of this conference (American Speech, Hearing and Language Association) we needed talented presenters who we could rely on for content-rich sessions that are both inspiring and exciting-- partners we could rely on to be with us every step of the way. Our aspirations were fully realized through your great gift of storytelling, Onawumi. It is not easy to enchant 4000 people, but that is just what you did. Outstanding! Your dedication to your work and, most importantly, to people shines through everything you do." - Michelle B. McGuigan, Project Manager Fusion Productions, Webster, NY
"Onawumi held the audience spellbound with her delivery of presentation. She interspersed her stories with a cappella renditions of songs apropos to her tales. Most outstanding was her performance of Amazing Grace as she told of the life of Johnny Newton, composer."
- President of the Council for Human Understanding, Holyoke, MA"
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"What a wonderful gift you gave us last Friday morning. People were very, very pleased with your message and your medium of delivery--in song and story. You were so 'right-on'. Right for the times. right for us, right for our aching souls. Thank you, thank you, thank you from all of us." -Janet L. Wood, Program Coordinator, Council of Social Agencies (COSA) of Hampshire County, MA.
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"Please allow me the opportunity to thank you for your wonderful performance during this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration. The retelling of a King family story was a wonderful vehicle that not only personalized and brought a touch of realism, but entertained our young audience and families as well. Your stories enhanced our opportunity to achieve our goal, sending a message of individual pride, with appreciation of the whole."
- Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commemoration Committee, American Friends Service Committee