Featured – StoryCorps
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Staff Spotlight: Lara Torsky, Director of Individual Giving at StoryCorps

About Me

I have spent the past decade working in development, first in education, before transitioning to the non-profit sector. Outside of work, I am a first-time mom to a five-month-old baby boy and enjoy spending as much time with him as I can. I am also a certified yoga instructor and try to teach when my schedule allows.

What is your position at StoryCorps and how long have you been with the organization?

I’m the director of individual giving and have been at StoryCorps for a little over two years. My role touches on so many areas of giving: online giving, direct mail efforts, events, and more. But in essence, I try to find ways to engage our donors and deepen their relationship with StoryCorps and our leadership. Individual donors provide StoryCorps with flexible funds that allow us to adapt to whatever needs may arise and make StoryCorps a great place to work. This support is vital and we literally could not do our work without it. 

What are some challenges and rewards of your job?

The challenge of my job is that it covers so many aspects of giving; it’s really a diverse role. The rewarding aspects are the great people I work with and seeing our program grow. Looking toward 2023, we are very excited to have an in-person gala—our first since the pandemic began—in honor of StoryCorps 20th anniversary. Creating space for people to come together, celebrate, and experience StoryCorps is very rewarding.

What is a typical week like for you?

In development, our work is cyclical. Right now, we are really focused on end-of-year giving. A majority of our individual donors give at the end of the year, so we are working on messaging for Giving Tuesday (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving) and email messaging for December. During a given week, I am usually working with the development, marketing, and leadership teams to strategize new ways to bring our mission to life, inspire people to give, and show the impact of their support.  

What is your favorite StoryCorps story?

I love the story “Double Major,” which is now an animation. It is the first StoryCorps story that I remember hearing back when it first aired in June 2012, and it was a broadcast on NPR. I was standing in my parent’s backyard when it came on the radio and had that classic “StoryCorps moment” where I just started crying (something I know many of our listeners have experienced as well). It’s such a moving story about a dad in his twenties who goes to college after serving in the Navy, with his infant daughter in tow. Somehow, he balances being an older student taking care of a baby and working, while also playing on the college basketball team.

Why do you think everyone should record a story with StoryCorps?

There is nothing like having the voice of your friends and family preserved–especially after they are gone. It’s very special and truly priceless. 

Recent Study Shows Power of One Small Step Conversations

More in Common, a nonpartisan organization focused on strengthening resilience against the forces of division, just completed a study of One Small Step “Audio Cards,” short video excerpts of One Small Step conversations that are shareable on social media and demonstrate that it’s possible to have conversations across the political divide.

In 2018, More in Common launched a year-long groundbreaking project that explores the nuances in the way we identify politically in America. It turns out we’re not just Republicans, Democrats, and Independents—the American electorate is actually comprised of what More in Common has identified as seven Hidden Tribes. Learn more about this research here. The Hidden Tribes project found that 9 in 10 Americans say they are exhausted by the political division in this country. The research also showed that most Americans value empathy, believe in the power of listening and engaging with others who have different views and experiences, and are looking for a way out of the divisive place we find ourselves in today. Additionally, the findings suggest that almost all Americans think that people need to listen to each other better and agree that sharing stories helps us understand each other.

For the StoryCorps study, More in Common gathered a panel of Americans from different political backgrounds and shared eight Audio Cards that feature excerpts of real One Small Step conversations. Afterward, panelists were given a set of questions to capture  their opinions.

Results showed that participants of all political persuasions were powerfully affected by these excerpts. The panelists’ strong positive responses confirm our initial hypothesis that seeing others take part in One Small Step conversations can make Americans feel it is possible to engage others with different political beliefs and that doing so might help us overcome our divisions. One of the most common responses to each Audio Card was the word “hope.” In particular, many participants said they felt inspired by the evidence that Americans from different backgrounds can talk respectfully and want to take part in a similar conversation.

“The One Small Step conversations are a ray of light at a time when Americans feel blanketed in pessimism, with no way forward beyond our deep divisions,” said More in Common Co-founder Tim Dixon. “In a time when most Americans no longer trust politicians, talking heads or even celebrities, it’s the authentic voices of Americans just like them that are more powerful than anything else.”

For One Small Step to achieve its true potential—of impact at scale—we need to test and learn whose voices resonate most strongly, and what reaches those Americans who most need to hear the positive message that comes from these conversations,” added Dixon.

Experience these Audio Cards for yourself—and if you like what you hear, we invite you to share them on your social media channels.

Staff Spotlight: Kathrina Proscia, Director of Executive Office & Board Liaison

Meet Kathrina Proscia, he

About Me:

I’m a New Yorker through and through. Born in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, raised in Queens, I’ve never lived outside NYC and wear my thick Brooklyn/Queens accent proudly. Working in Manhattan during the ’80s, I was living my dream, but left the workforce for another dream: to raise two amazing daughters alongside my husband and real-life hero, Joe. I picked up my career again in early 2000 and began working at StoryCorps in 2006 as a part-time, temporary consultant. I would have never guessed that that gig would turn into a 16-year career at StoryCorps working alongside our inspiring Founder and President Dave Isay and the talented StoryCorps staff. Working with Sandy Clark, our amazing new CEO, is a pleasure. Dave and Sandy’s commitment to this organization is heartfelt. StoryCorps and its important mission have brought me much joy, and yes, there have been many sleepless nights too, as nothing important comes easy. I’m honored to have lived StoryCorps’ evolution over these many years, and am thrilled to be a part of the organization’s exciting future.  

What is your role at StoryCorps?

I am a member of StoryCorps’ executive team and serve as director of the executive office and Board liaison. My main focus is to support the Board, along with Dave and Sandy, so that they have what they need to be successful in carrying out StoryCorps’ mission.

What is a typical week like for you?

In any given week, my days are super busy. With the support of a super-efficient and kind Executive Assistant Jeanette Maldonado, I’m working closely with Dave, Sandy, and the other members of the executive team to enable a positive workflow and to ensure key information is shared across departments. I act as the gatekeeper on a daily basis creating the proper situations for access to the president and CEO internally and externally and also act as a ‘barometer’ sensing what issues and concerns need to be brought to the attention of StoryCorps leadership. I write correspondence on behalf of the president and CEO, manage internal and external relationships together with key departments, and attend meetings with—and on behalf—of the executive office. 

I am also the key contact for vetting and negotiating speaking contracts and collaborating with external partners on the detailed execution of speaking engagements. I’m responsible for ensuring the president and CEO are fully prepared for all internal and external meetings as well as working with M&C [Marketing & Communications] around press interviews. Working with the CEO, I manage the various aspects related to our four Board meetings a year. I also write the minutes for the Board meetings and am the keeper of information and documents related to the Board’s committees, governance, term limits, and bylaws. There’s much more to my work day but let’s leave it at that; every day is a busy one for sure.

How have you seen StoryCorps evolve?

StoryCorps was a start-up when I joined: very hip and casual. Since then, I’ve seen it evolve into the national nonprofit it is today. It’s like watching a dream come true as we all work toward making StoryCorps a household name. I’ve also worked with so many wonderful staff who have passed through the doors at 80 Hanson. I love keeping in touch after they’ve moved on to see how their journey has unfolded. I remember when StoryCorps Board member Jason Reynolds was a facilitator with us—he was a young 20-something—and now he’s a #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books for young people and was named as the Library of Congress‘ national ambassador for young people’s literature in 2020. Many talented people have gotten their start here and we are so grateful to have been a part of their growth. 

What drew you to StoryCorps?

I started as a consultant to help get StoryCorps organized from an administrative perspective. For example, I helped Human Resources get organized and worked on early drafts of the facilitator manuals. After two months here, someone mentioned that Dave didn’t have any devoted administrative support. And before long, I found myself working full time as his executive assistant. Later, I was promoted to special assistant to the president, then director, and now director and Board liaison. My job has kept evolving and expanding ever since. It’s been sixteen years and I still love what I do every day. 

What are your biggest challenges and what do you enjoy most in this job?

My biggest challenge is trying to prioritize when everything is a priority and there’s so much to do. What’s been most fulfilling is watching the staff — they are so brilliant and do their work so gracefully. They just keep moving and shaking and it’s an honor to work with everyone. 

Why should everyone record a story with StoryCorps?

One of the most important things you can do is leave a legacy and history for the next generation. It may sound cliche but I mean it with all of my heart. Having someone tell their own story is unique — it’s a gift to the world.

What is your favorite StoryCorps story?

I have so many, but one is Clean Streets about two garbage men who worked as partners for years in Manhattan. Their accents and their whole exchange are just quintessential New York! Also, the 9/11 stories. They are beyond moving—especially She Was the One. Richie Pecorella lost his wife on 9/11 and until he passed away, he and Dave would have dinner together every year in Karen’s memory. 

Commemorating the Anniversary of September 11

In 2005, in partnership with the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, StoryCorps launched the September 11 Initiative. The goal of the project is to record at least one story commemorating each life lost during the attacks on September 11, 2001 and the February 26, 1993 World Trade Center Bombing.

Last year, in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, StoryCorps released two new animated shorts highlighting the voices of those impacted by this tragedy, “September 12th” and “Father Mychal’s Blessing.” These new animations are part of a rich body of stories from the September 11 Initiative, which includes conversations with family members, colleagues, and friends who wish to commemorate the events of September 11.

These StoryCorps interviews are archived in the StoryCorps Archive in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and are also part of a special collection at the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

Father Mychal’s Blessing

On 9/11, Father Mychal Judge, beloved chaplain to the NYC Fire Department, was killed during the attack on the World Trade Center while offering spiritual support, becoming the first certified fatality of the 9/11 attacks. His friend, Father Michael Duffy, read the sermon at his funeral. He remembers Father Mychal’s endearing mannerisms, constant positivity, and profound impact on everyone he knew.
Read the full transcript here.

September 12th

On 9/11, Vaughn Allex checked in two passengers arriving late for their flight. He learned later that they were two of the hijackers of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. He recalls the toll it took on him.
Read the full transcript here.

We also released a two-part podcast episode that shares first-hand reflections on 9/11. The first part, a collaboration with Consider This, looks at the lasting toll of 9/11 on U.S. civilians, U.S. veterans, and Afghan citizens. The second part remembers the life and legacy of Richard Palazzolo, who was killed in the attacks. Subscribe to the StoryCorps podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

From StoryCorps and Consider This: The Lasting Toll Of 9/11
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From StoryCorps and Consider This: The Lasting Toll Of 9/11

In this episode of the StoryCorps podcast, we teamed up with NPR’s daily afternoon podcast, Consider This, to bring you stories from some of the people whose lives were forever changed by September 11 and its aftermath.

“I opened up the back door of that church to see these hundreds of eyes all staring back at me, knowing where I had been.”
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Joe Dittmar

Joe Dittmar recounts making his way back home on September 11, 2001 after surviving the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Read the full transcript here.

"He gave me the joys of motherhood, and the pains of motherhood."
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Salman Hamdani

Talat Hamdani remembers her son, an EMT and NYPD cadet who died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 as a first responder and was wrongfully accused of having terrorist links.
Read the full transcript here.

She Was the One

When Richie Pecorella met Karen Juday, she captured his heart and changed his life. They were engaged when she was killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Read the full transcript here.

John and Joe

The late John Vigiano Sr., a retired FDNY captain, honors his sons — John Jr., also a firefighter, and Joe, a police detective — who were killed while saving others on September 11, 2001.
Read the full transcript here.

Sean Rooney

Beverly Eckert shares her final conversation with her husband, Sean Rooney, before he died in the south tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Read the full transcript here.

"We were so close that it was like just being...one person."
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Richie Palazzolo

Ronnie and Richie Palazzolo were identical twins who did everything together, including working at the World Trade Center. They were both there on the morning of the September 11 attacks. 20 years later, Ronnie came to StoryCorps to remember his brother and best friend.
Read the full transcript here.

“We were the luckiest of the unlucky.”
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Mark Petrocelli

Retired NYC Fire Chief Albert Petrocelli died from COVID-19 nearly two decades after losing his youngest son, Mark, on September 11, 2001. Before he passed, Chief Petrocelli and his wife, Ginger, sat down to remember the last time they saw their son.
Read the full transcript here.

"People saw only a turban and a beard."
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Balbir Singh Sodhi

Rana and Harjit Sodhi remember their brother, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh man who was killed in the first hate crime following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Read the full transcript here.

Always a Family

Monique Ferrer remembers the last time she spoke with her ex-husband, Michael Trinidad, on September 11, 2001, when he called her from the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower to say goodbye.
Read the full transcript here.


From the Archive: More Stories of September 11

To hear more stories related to September 11, visit our Archive and search for the keyword “9/11”.

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Dawn Ennis and Amy Weinstein

Interview partners Dawn Ennis and Amy Weinstein talk about Dawn’s experience as a producer on CBS This Morning on the morning of September 11, 2001. Dawn describes the exact moment when newsrooms found out that a plane had hit the World Trade Center and she shares her feelings regarding the reactions that New Yorkers had after the attack. Read the full transcript here.


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Sharon Watts

Sharon Watts shares the story of her relationship with her ex-fiance Captain Patrick Brown of the FDNY, who passed away during the 9/11 attacks. Sharon affectionately recollects stories and reveals that soon after Patrick passed away, Sharon compiled stories and journals about his life to create a book. Read the full transcript here.


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Maria Dominguez and Phillip Cassanova

Rescue medical firefighter, Maria “Terry” Dominguez talks with her nephew Phillip Cassanova about her deployment with the USSR during the 9/11 attacks and shares her feelings about the aftermath of the tragedy while reflecting on the importance of loved ones. Phillip describes being 10 years old when the attack occurred and finding out in his 5th grade classroom. Read the full transcript here.


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Michael Doyle

Michael Doyle, along with StoryCorps facilitator Virginia Lora, recounts finding out that the attacks had occurred while he was riding the Q train over lower Manhattan. Read the full transcript here.


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Diane Davis and Leo McKenna

Spouses Diane Davis and Leo McKenna discuss their memories of 9/11, when 7,000 plane passengers were forced to land in the town of Gander, Newfoundland, Canada following the attacks in New York City. Diane, a third grade teacher at the time, remembers preparing the schools to house the passengers. Leo recalls the commotion that occurred due to the sudden landing of the passengers. Read the full transcript here.


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Seth and Lois Gilman

Seth Gilman, who was a rescue worker during 9/11, speaks with his mother Lois Gilman about assisting the New York City police and witnessing the loss of many lives on that day. He describes his journey to becoming a teacher, and the unity that he saw during a difficult moment in history. Read the full transcript here.


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Nadine Newlight

Nadine (Nai’a) Newlight tells StoryCorps facilitator Eloise Melzer about how close she was to being at World Trade Center on 9/11. She describes her love for the World Trade Center and her experience as a tour guide there. Read the full transcript here.


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Brian Muldowney and B. Kelly Hallman

Colleagues and close friends Brian Muldowney and B. Kelly Hallman discuss the loss of Muldowney’s brother, Richard Muldowney Jr., a fellow firefighter who passed away saving people on 9/11. Brian describes going down to the World Trade Center with his brother’s firehouse to help and discusses how his brother’s legacy affects his work. Read the full transcript here.


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Michael Fabiano

Michael Fabiano, a Deputy Controller for NY/NJ Port Authority, speaks with Sarah Geis about his experience being on the 69th floor of Tower 1 when the first plane attacked. He describes his escape from the building and his efforts to help bring to safety a colleague, John Ambrosio, who was wheelchair bound.
Read the full transcript here.


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Kris Gould and Scott Accord

On the morning of 9/11 as she watched the planes crash, Kris Gould tried to get in contact with a friend who worked on the 99th floor of Tower 1. She and her colleague Scott Accord talk about the vibe that fell over the city the day after the attacks occurred. Read the full transcript here.


Share your story. StoryCorps Connect makes it possible to interview a loved one remotely and then upload it to the StoryCorps Archive at the Library of Congress. Learn more at StoryCorpsConnect.org.

A Year Later: Reflections of an Afghan-American Marine

On September 3, 2021, NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast a StoryCorps conversation with Ajmal Achekzai that explored the dualities he felt as an Afghan-born U.S. Marine. It was later reimagined as an animation.

As we mark the first anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, we followed up with Ajmal to reflect on what life has been like since our first conversation.

This interview-style interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

On September 3rd, 2021 we broadcasted your original conversation and have since animated it – How has sharing this story impacted your life?

AA: It has changed my life in so many ways that I am at a loss for words. I managed to get in touch with Afghan Refugee Relief (ARR), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is assisting many refugees in southern California with their emergency resettlement. 

What’s important about telling this story?

AA: The significance of sharing this story is that it should make the general public aware of the ongoing struggles of the Afghan people. Hunger and poverty are unfathomable. Among the many tragic things still occurring in Afghanistan, the Taliban have not changed and have imposed policies that gravely violate basic rights, including restrictions on women’s rights, a ban on girls attending school, and violent attacks on Hazara and Shia communities that have claimed the lives of hundreds of Hazara and Shia Afghans.

What do you think people should be paying attention to now on the news cycle?

AA: A year has passed since the Taliban took Kabul, Afghanistan. 24.4 million Afghans are in need of humanitarian assistance. (source: 24.4 million people need humanitarian assistance now Afghanistan. Half are women & girls – these are their stories of struggle and defiance | United Nations in Afghanistan). The ability of Afghan families to care for themselves and satisfy their most basic requirements is being severely impacted by a paralyzed financial system, a shortage of money (the American government has frozen Afghan funds since the Taliban took over the country in 2021), employment opportunities, income loss, and the lingering effects of decades of conflict. These are only a few of the numerous issues people should be paying attention to.

What type of help do you think refugees most need? How can people stay engaged?

AA: There are many things the refugees need. Most of these families often arrive in need of medical attention and with only the clothes on their backs. As they rebuild their lives, they also require housing, food, transportation, household items, and many other necessities. Here are a few different ways people can stay engaged: Donations such as cash, furniture, school supply, items on a wish list, gift cards, new or gently-used items, volunteer to help the refugee families by helping set up their apartments, running donation drives, translators (Dari or Pashto), and being a mentor or tutor, and reaching out to the non-profits that are helping in the States & Afghanistan:

The links provided above are a courtesy of Ajmal and are not affiliated with StoryCorps.

Do you have any advice for others who feel caught “between two cultures [they] love?”

AA: One piece of  advice I can give is to accept the uniqueness of it. Because being caught between two cultures they love gives them a collective strength that can be used to better mankind as a whole.

In case you missed the broadcast, you can listen to it here, or you can watch it as an animation.

This interview is part of the Anwar Collection of Muslim Voices and Tapestry of Voices Collection through StoryCorps’ American Pathways initiative. This initiative is made possible by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and an Anonymous Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Stuart Family Foundation. It will be archived at the Library of Congress.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re highlighting the stories that uplift Latine* voices as they share triumphs, achievements, legacies, and lived experiences from across the United States. As you listen to the stories below, take a moment to reflect on what heritage means to you and how you consider inclusivity in your day-to-day life.

Know any voices that are missing from the narrative of Latine history and heritage?

By sitting down with someone you love for a StoryCorps conversation, you’re showing them that their stories matter and preserving them for generations to come. Just download the StoryCorps App to record your conversation and upload it directly to the Archive, housed at the Library of Congress. Or, if an in-person interview isn’t possible, use StoryCorps Connect to conduct it remotely.

From StoryCorps Historias

Listen to and share stories from StoryCorps Historias, our initiative to record the diverse stories and life experiences of Latine people in the United States. You can also find our full collection of Historias stories here.

Facundo the Great

Ramón “Chunky” Sanchez remembers how teachers at his elementary school anglicized the Mexican American students’ names. But one name stumped them all.

“I remember he had the white boots, the white mask, with kind of like a red beak.”
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A Son Remembers His Father, A Lucho Libre Wrestler

John Torres, Jr. came to StoryCorps with his dad’s best friend and fellow wrestler, Abraham Guzman, to remember John, Sr. and his stardom as a Lucho Libre Wrestler in the Bronx.

"When Papu would talk to us it was like a king holding his court."
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They Called Him Papu

Martha Escutia and her cousin Marina Jimenez share the legacy of their grandfather, nicknamed Papu, who came to the U.S. as a Bracero worker in the 1940s.

“There’s vultures circling all the time.”
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Providing Life-Saving Aid at the Border

Maria Ochoa, a 70-year-old grandmother, speaks about the many times she’s walked the Arizona desert, providing legal, life-saving water and aid to migrants crossing the border from Mexico.

"Tell me about your childhood in Mexico."
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Growing Up in Tijuana

Francisco Ortega shares memories of his childhood in Tijuana with his daughter Kaya, and tells her about the day he left Mexico to reunite with his parents in Los Angeles.

Yelitza Castro and Willie Davis

Yelitza Castro, an undocumented immigrant, has been cooking meals for homeless people in her community since 2010. Through this work she has gotten to know Willie Davis, who has been the recipient of many of those meals.

Gabe and Chris López

Gabe López, age 8, remembers when things really changed for him as a transgender kid. With his mother and friends by his side, he knew he wouldn’t have to face these changes alone.

“He was proud he was able to help save one of his fellow pilots.”
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Siblings Remember Their Father, A Combat Pilot Who Served In Three Wars

Lt. Col. Miguel Encinias was a military pilot at a time when combat pilots of Hispanic heritage were almost unheard of. At StoryCorps, Isabel and Juan Pablo Encinias reflect on their hero — their father — and his love for flying.

Mi Abuela Panchita

Bishop Ricardo Ramierez remembers his grandmother Panchita Espitia as a formidable and wise woman. He shares her memory and the valuable spiritual lesson she taught him at the end of her days.

Want to listen to more StoryCorps stories? Sign up for our Story of the Week newsletter to discover a new voice every week.

Looking for more activities related to Hispanic Heritage Month?

Check out a digital exhibition presented as part of our collaboration with the American Folklife Center and the Hispanic Division at the Library of Congress.

Digital Artifact Exploration (PDF): Celebrate Latine heritage by experiencing it with a Digital Artifact Exploration for Hispanic Heritage Month

*Throughout the brief history of this month-long commemoration multiple words have been used including Hispanic, Latino, Latina, Latinx and now Latine to highlight individuals whose roots tie them to Latin America. At StoryCorps, we try our best to be inclusive of all individuals, from any background. In doing so, we want to share our reasoning behind our wording. We believe that any individual should be free to use the word that they most identify with, and with the goal of creating inclusive spaces in mind, we will be using the word Latine as we share stories for Hispanic Heritage Month, and beyond. Latine is a gender-neutral version of Latino and Latina, that uses an -e instead of an -x (such as in Latinx), and can be considered more inclusive for Spanish and English speakers alike.

Life on the Road: Adventures with StoryCorps’ Mobile Tour Staff (July 24 – July 28, 2022)

Soap Lake, WA-July 24, 2022

Hello from Soap Lake, WA! We are pretty pumped to have two days of field recordings here!

This little city has been built up around…you guessed it: Soap Lake! The lake boasts the most diverse naturally occurring mineral content on earth, and people have flocked to the lake for its healing properties for centuries, from Tsincayuse or Sinkiuse tribes to World War I veterans suffering from Buerger’s disease

It’s no surprise, then, that our recording space is a natural medicine practice full of peaceful, healing vibes: 

Here, we heard stories about waitressing and bartending the city’s nightlife scene, an adventure that brought one woman here from Yorkshire, England, to Soap Lake, discussions, and plans to create the largest lava lamp in the world (60 feet tall!) After recording, Lea and I jumped into the lake to test out the healing properties for ourselves. We don’t know if it healed us or not, but we sure felt rejuvenated afterwards! We also felt grateful–Lea pointed out how lucky we are to hear stories about such a special place all day, then get to experience it for ourselves.

Leavenworth, WA – July 26, 2022

Lea and I are both off work today, so we are headed to Leavenworth, WA, a nearby Bavarian village.

En route, we got some delicious coffee at Favored Farmhouse

We also couldn’t resist the urge to stop and take a dip in the Wenatchee River on the way. The air here smelled so splendidly of pine trees that even looking at this picture brings the scent back. 

As we eat pretzels and overlook the colorful streets in Leavenworth, we truly feel like we’ve somehow traveled abroad. Life on the road can be like that sometimes–an hour or so away and suddenly we find ourselves in a completely new environment, seeing the world as if with new eyes. It’s wild how we’ve now seen so much, and, yet, there is always another unexpected gem around the corner, just as sparkly as the last experience we’ve had.

Moses Lake, WA – 7/27/22

We all have a way of creating home on the road as we travel to new temporary spaces each month. Teriyana likes to find health food stores where she can find her favorite snacks. Naomi likes to make playlists that remind her of the various places she’s lived. Sonia likes to take walks to explore her new surroundings. Back when she was a Mobile Tour Facilitator, Lea brought her favorite tapestry with her to decorate each room she stayed in. My ritual is to make Sun Art from the plants I see in the area. Since I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors, collecting leaves and flowers as part of the process makes me feel closer to home. 

Here’s what I made this month from a bundle of lavender given to me by a kind stranger at the farmer’s market and some Sweet Gum Tree seeds that I collected from around Moses Lake’s Japanese Peace Garden:

Moses Lake, WA – 7/28/22

And just like that, we are done! We had our last day of recordings at the Civic Center today, said our goodbyes, and packed up.

After 10 months on the road, every stop seems to go even faster than the last. Maybe it’s because our days are so full, or maybe this is just how time feels at this stage in our lives. Either way, the car ride to our next destination is always a nice time to slow down and reflect. On Sunday, we will drive to Boise, ID so I’ll get the chance to do just that. I’m sure plenty more thoughts and adventures await that I would love to share with you, but this will be my last blog post for now. Thanks so much for tuning in! Until next time, I challenge you to ask your loved ones, or someone you’d like to know better, some great questions!

Click here to read the first installment of the Mobile Tour series.

Click here to read the second installment of the Mobile Tour series.

Click here to read the third installment of the Mobile Tour series.

How Richmond, VA is Embracing One Small Step

Baseball games, a church, a library, the offices of the largest newspaper in Richmond, and a museum of history and culture. All of these places were stops earlier this summer in our outreach and engagement efforts in Richmond, VA, one of our One Small Step Anchor Communities. 

“There continues to be a great amount of interest in One Small Step in Richmond,” said One Small Step Field Manager Sonia Mehrmand. “Organizations are eager to partner with StoryCorps to help bring this initiative to more people throughout their community and we’re excited to support them.” 

On June 9, Sonia threw out the first pitch at a Richmond Flying Squirrels baseball game and over the course of two games, spoke with numerous attendees about One Small Step, why Richmond is a focus for this work, and how they can get involved. She and StoryCorps’ Founder and President Dave Isay also spoke with community members at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, who are eager to learn more about the initiative. Dave also gave a Creative Mornings talk and shared why StoryCorps is focusing its One Small Step work in Richmond.

Watch Dave’s talk:

Sonia rounded out her time in Richmond at K95 Countryfest, a two-day country music festival, speaking to attendees about One Small Step and encouraging them to apply to be matched for a conversation. 

Finally, Sonia and Dave met with Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney about his interest in One Small Step, and welcomed his ideas and enthusiasm for how it can help his community. 

Over the course of one week, Sonia and Dave were able to make hundreds of connections with people throughout Richmond and are eager to see how One Small Step continues to build momentum throughout the community. 

Sign up to take One Small Step.

Stories to Start the School Year

For years, StoryCorps has worked closely with schools to provide teachers and students with resources for recording the stories of people they admire. With the new school year just around the corner, we’re sharing a few of these voices. Listen to stories of current and former students and educators as they share the memories of school that they carry with them.

You can honor a student or educator in your life with a StoryCorps interview like these. Just download the StoryCorps App to record your conversation and upload it directly to the Archive, housed at the Library of Congress. Or, if an in-person interview isn’t possible, use StoryCorps Connect to conduct it remotely.

“I think you should get half my diploma.”
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A Special Kind of Thank You

Cole Phillips became blind shortly before he began high school. The late Rugenia Keefe was the paraprofessional assigned to help Cole. The two came to rely on each other’s humor and humility.

"As if high school is not hard enough…"
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“As If High School Is Not Hard Enough”

Tierra Jackson, age 23, talks to John Horan, the president of her high school, about what her life was like when they first met.

School’s Out

As Black families were pushed out of his town of Sheridan, AR, Reverend James Seawood recalls how his mother became the principal, janitor, and more to ensure Black students had access to an education.

"I did think I was the smartest person in class. But I realized that you were gonna give me a run for my money."
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50 Years After Desegregation, Two Classmates Remember

A half-century after the milestone Supreme Court case Alexander v. Holmes, former classmates Natalie Guice Adams and Eli Brown reflect together for the first time on life after court-ordered desegregation.

“I feel like I have wings now.”
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Don’t Let Anybody Tell You That You Can’t

Ngoc Nguyen talks with her GED instructor Chris Myers about her childhood and the impact his teaching has had on her.

"You have this unique ability to — even in the darkest times — just tell people it's going to be okay."
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Two Teachers on Supporting Their Students and Each Other During the Pandemic

High school English teacher Alexia Dukes speaks with her mentor and colleague, Maria Rivera, about teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In my old school, I never went to class."
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Wanting the Best for Your Students, Even When They Don’t See It

When Sarah Benko first began tutoring Meliza Arellano, the two did not hit it off. They sat down to look back on the year when Meliza became a serious student.

"You showed me that I'm not alone."
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“You Always Have a Family Here.”

Warning: this story discusses child abuse.

At the time when Rogelio Martinez enrolled in Lisa Moya King’s high school dance class, his family members were abusing him. Years later, Rogelio talks with Lisa about how she took care of him when he needed it.

"He said, 'You make sure you call that teacher.'"
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An Unexpected Phone Call

Eighth grade science teacher Al Siedlecki, or “Mr. Sie,” was helping a group of students study for a test when he received a surprise phone call from former student Lee Buono, now a neurosurgeon.

"I always walk them through the lunch line…"
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The Cost of Lunch

Kenny Thompson, a volunteer mentor, discovered that some kids he worked with couldn’t afford school lunch. He spoke with students Gary Barber and Dakota Gibson about the weight of paying for school lunches, and what his help meant to them.

Lessons Learned

From the first roll call of the 1964 school year, Dr. Weaver knew his new teachers didn’t have his success in mind. Luckily, one former teacher did.

“I realized, wow, somebody else has these feelings. This isn’t just me.”
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50 Years Later: Giving Thanks to the Teacher Who Changed His Life

Russell King sat down with his elementary school music teacher Paige Macklin to tell her about how she changed his life with a musical number.

"You were just doing what you felt you needed to do for us to be better people."
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How A Dedicated Teacher Turned Into A Lifelong Friend

6th grade math teacher Raymond Blanks speaks with his former 7th grade teacher and friend, Sean Lloyd, about how Sean inspired him to follow in his footsteps.

Want to listen to more StoryCorps stories? Sign up for our Story of the Week newsletter to discover a new voice every week.

Staff Spotlight: Kati Frazier, Associate Director of Public Support at StoryCorps

About me

I was born and raised in North Carolina, but I’ve lived in New York for 10 years. I’ve always been passionate about storytelling: before I came to StoryCorps I spent my whole career working in nonprofit theater. These days, when I’m not hard at work supporting our participants and users, I’m usually puttering in my fire-escape garden, writing a play, seeing an off-off-off-off Broadway show you’ve never heard of, or spending a night in with my wife and cats.  

What is your role at StoryCorps?

I’m the Associate Director of Public Support and Solutions which means that—along with a small team—I answer the general email box, support StoryCorps participants, and lead communications with users of our Mobile App and Online Archive.

How long have you been with the organization?

I started at StoryCorps in 2018.

What is a typical day like for you?

Every day, I spend time in ZenDesk [a help desk management tool] reviewing and responding to incoming inquiries from our community and on a given day, I might be meeting with our Digital team about improvements to our Online Archive, working with the Marketing & Communications team on emails to StoryCorps App users, advocating for the user experience, or working with the Recording & Archives team on archival policies that impact participants.

What do you find most fulfilling about your job?

I find it really fulfilling to work with participants; not a lot of StoryCorps staff (beyond our facilitators) interact with our participants on a regular basis. Often, as a remembrance, we hear from individuals who are searching for older interviews recorded by a recently deceased loved one. Helping people reconnect with these precious memories is one of my favorite things about this job.

What is most challenging about your job?

While I love working with the public, it can also be challenging. In this job, we are on the front lines when it comes to hearing about an issue, so there are times when my day has gone sideways because I’m responding to an unexpected message.

What might people not know about StoryCorps?

That public support exists—people don’t always know that we’re here to help them. We also have some great fans. One time, a high school class created a musical based on StoryCorps stories and then showed up at our Chicago StoryBooth [when it was in operation] to sing one of their show’s songs. People have also written songs about StoryCorps and sent them to us. We love receiving those kinds of messages!

Why should every American do an interview?

It democratizes the historical record because—no matter what your story is—all interviews are archived and preserved at StoryCorps’ archive at the Library of Congress. We are always happy to help participants retrieve their interviews. It’s a really beautiful thing that you can do for yourself and for future generations.

What is your favorite story?

The Dr. Tiller story is a good example of how our work can humanize a challenging and complex issue and it made me proud to work at StoryCorps.