Sophia Karwowski – StoryCorps
Support StoryCorps and help preserve the stories of our time in America Donate

I have the coolest job. Your support makes it possible.

I joined StoryCorps in May of this year as the site manager for our Mobile Tour, StoryCorps’ converted mobile recording studio that visits cities across the country each year. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mobile Tour hasn’t been hosting in-person recordings — but that  hasn’t stopped us from giving people an opportunity to share their stories.

Our team, which typically welcomes StoryCorps participants into our Mobile Booth, has shifted to a virtual recording format so we can honor appointments that have been made — and so we can continue to reach out into communities to invite people to share their stories. We partner with local radio stations, local cultural institutions, and service organizations to welcome community members to participate in a StoryCorps conversation. Thousands of those interviews, which my team facilitates, are then preserved in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. 

I love our team, and I have one of the coolest roles as someone who facilitates interviews twice a week. It’s a privilege and an honor to hold space for listening. I’ve learned that people just want to be heard. In the Mobile — and virtual — Booth, people find a safe space to open up, to tell a story that matters, and to be remembered.

StoryCorps allows people to experience compassionate listening. When you donate to StoryCorps, you help seek, cultivate, and foster stories from diverse populations across America — stories we’re all lucky to hear.

Our stories make up our history. Help us continue to create a place for history to be heard. Please support StoryCorps today.

With gratitude,

Eunice Cho
StoryCorps Mobile Tour Site Manager

An oral history emergency?

If you could press a button and listen to your grandmother when she was ten years old, would you press that button? Every time I’ve posed that question, the response is a unanimous yes. 

When we collect our stories, we realize how vital they are — especially now when so many are feeling isolated or unheard. 

I’m the regional manager for StoryCorps Atlanta, one of the StoryCorps locations across the country where people go to record, preserve, and share their life stories. My job is to make sure the booth stays open to people who want to participate in sharing their stories, that the equipment is running well, and that it’s being used as much as possible.

I also do a lot of outreach. A number of people come to StoryCorps on their own, but many others come to us because we invite them through outreach to local, community-based organizations and cultural institutions. This is how we’re able to record the previously untold stories in our collection that make the biggest impact — such as stories of undocumented immigrants, homeless communities, and frontline workers fighting public health emergencies.

America is made of many different stories and experiences. Everyone has a story to tell, and a need to be heard. And having access to our stories  — yours, mine, people we don’t know — gives us a chance to understand who we are and to listen to each other more fully. When you support StoryCorps today, you give us the power to ask people to share their stories.

Whatever you can give — $5, $10, $25 — makes this possible. Please, donate today.

Thank you,

Daniel Horowitz Garcia
StoryCorps Regional Manager

The 2021 StoryCorps Mobile Tour: Recording Conversations Remotely Across the U.S.

In 2021, we’re partnering with local radio stations in cities throughout the U.S. to remotely record the conversations of local residents and preserve them in the Library of Congress.

Since 2005, the StoryCorps Mobile Tour has facilitated thousands of meaningful conversations between people who know and care about one another. This year, for the safety of participants during the pandemic, our tour will begin remotely, with appointments in our “virtual recording booth.” Participants can record remotely from their homes using an internet-connected device.

Reservations, which are free and available to the public, become available approximately two weeks before the tour’s arrival in each location and can be booked here. The initial tour itinerary is below; additional dates and locations will be announced in spring 2021.

Location Partner Dates
Boston, MA WBUR January 5 – February 13, 2020
Mississippi Mississippi Public Broadcasting February 12 – March 30, 2020
Little Rock, AR KUAR March 24 – April 24
Baltimore, MD WYPR April 28 – May 29

In a StoryCorps interview, two people record a meaningful conversation with one another about who they are, what they’ve learned in life, and how they want to be remembered. A trained StoryCorps facilitator guides them through the interview process step-by-step. After each 40-minute recording session, participants receive a link to download their interview. With participant permission, their conversation is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

The interview process and experience for announced stops will be conducted via StoryCorps Virtual, a new, browser-based platform that allows both participants to see and hear one another during their conversation, and to be joined and guided by a StoryCorps facilitator remotely.

“StoryCorps tells an authentic American story — that we are a people defined by small acts of courage, kindness and heroism. Each interview reminds people that their lives matter and will not be forgotten. During this pandemic, the value of preserving these stories, and of strengthening connections between people who may feel physically isolated, is more important than ever.”

— Dave Isay, Founder and President of StoryCorps

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is the Founding Partner of the StoryCorps Mobile Tour. CPB’s support has enabled the StoryCorps Mobile Tour to visit 180 towns and cities nationwide since 2005, recording tens of thousands of stories.

Announcing American Pathways, an Initiative To Amplify the Stories of Muslims, Refugees, Asylees, and Specific Immigrant Groups in the U.S.

StoryCorps is launching American Pathways, a major two-year initiative to celebrate the stories and contributions of both Muslims living in America, including African American Muslims, and specific immigrant groups including asylees, refugees, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), TPS (Temporary Protected Status), and DED (Deferred Enforced Departure) recipients. 

The initiative seeks to move the traditional media conversation beyond the oft-dominant lenses to highlight stories of everyday refugees, asylees, immigrants and Muslims — doctors, teachers, and cab drivers; parents, children, and families. The recordings, gathered through partnerships with a wide range of national and community-based organizations, will be preserved for future generations in two collections in the StoryCorps Archive at the Library of Congress: the Tapestry of Voices Collection and the Anwar Collection of Muslim Voices, named in memory of beloved StoryCorps producer Liyna Anwar, an American Muslim woman who died on March 26, 2020, at the age of 30, of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. American Pathways is made possible in part by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges Program.

The recordings build upon StoryCorps’ already-rich archive of U.S.-born Muslim and refugee, asylee and immigrant voices, including “Driving Lessons,” in which Muhammad Faridi describes the evolving nature of his feelings about his father being a taxi driver; a conversation, produced by Liyna Anwar, between Mussarat Jabeen and her former pupil Yusor Abu-Salha, who was murdered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 2015; an interview in which immigration lawyer Irakere Picon and his wife Arianna Hermosillo talk about the challenges faced by Irakere, a DACA recipient; and a conversation between Maria Rivas and her teenage daughter Emily about potentially having her Temporary Protected Status (TPS) rescinded under the Trump administration. 

Dave Isay, Founder and President of StoryCorps, said, “We’re excited and humbled to launch American Pathways, especially at this critical moment in American history. This initiative will honor and celebrate the stories and lives of Muslims and immigrants living in the United States. In doing so, we hope to remind all Americans of two eternal truths: that we have so much more in common than divides us, and that all of our stories matter equally and infinitely.”

Senior Program Officer for the Building Bridges Program at the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Zeyba Rahman, said: “We are proud to support StoryCorps in this effort to amplify a wide spectrum of voices from African American and other U.S.-born Muslims as well as refugee, asylee and immigrant communities that include Muslims and to share their stories with the public. Stories are the connective tissue of human relationships, illuminating our shared humanity and building our reservoirs for empathy. American Pathways provides individuals from a variety of cultural and geographic origins with a powerful platform for sharing their experiences, facilitating understanding at a time when the United States needs it more than ever.” The mission of the Building Bridges Program is to support national efforts, working with U.S. Muslims, to increase mutual understanding and well-being among diverse populations for the benefit of building stronger, inclusive communities.

To gather recordings, StoryCorps has partnered with organizations including Refugee Congress, member agencies of Refugee Council USA, Islamic Speakers Bureau, and Silk Road Rising, and is working with an advisory council including Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, Building Bridges/ Rethink Media, and Refugee Congress. Follow the project here, and learn more in our press release.

 

Announcing the 2020 Military Voices Tour

This year, StoryCorps will team up with Veteran Service Organizations across the country as part of our 2020 Military Voices Initiative tour, made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). From March 2 to June 19, we will honor veterans and members of the military community across the country by recording and preserving their stories.

Millions of men and women have served in the armed services, while millions more family members have stood behind them at home. The military community knows well the challenges of multiple deployments, combat-injuries, and long-awaited homecomings. Yet few civilians truly understand the complex realities faced by our troops and their loved ones.

The Military Voices Initiative acknowledges this notion and contributes to StoryCorps’ diverse collection by recording and preserving the stories of veterans of all wars, service members, and military families. The tour offers an opportunity for them to share their experiences in their own words, which may be preserved for posterity in the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Since its launch in 2012, the Military Voices Initiative has preserved 2,700 of these stories, some of which are available to listen to here.

“CPB is committed to supporting the StoryCorps and these stories and experiences of the men and women who are serving and have served our country with courage and dedication,” said Pat Harrison, CPB president and CEO. “These stories of leadership and sacrifice will be accessible to future generations, reminding us of what it takes to protect and preserve democracy and our daily freedoms.”

The Military Voices Initiative tour will travel through the U.S., making stops in four cities, including Las Cruces, New Mexico; Green Bay, Wisconsin; La Crosse, Wisconsin; and Durham, North Carolina. Reservations are free and available to the public, are announced for each city, and can be booked here. The initiative also provides an opportunity for civilians to engage with the veterans and service members in their communities through listening events that will take place in each city, beginning with an event in Las Cruces, New Mexico on March 5.

Location Partner Dates
Las Cruces, NM KRWG March 2 – 13, 2020
Green Bay, WI WPR May 4 – 8, 2020
La Crosse, WI WPR May 11 – 15, 2020
Durham, NC WUNC June 8 – 19, 2020

StoryCorps fosters an environment of comfort and intimacy for its interviews, with a trained facilitator guiding participants throughout the process. After each 40-minute recording session, participants receive a complimentary copy of their interview, and a second copy is archived at the Library of Congress with the participant’s permission.

“At our best, we are a nation defined by acts of courage, compassion, and heroism. It is vital that we honor the lives and service of our military veterans and their families. In recording and preserving these stories, we hope that future generations can listen and learn about the lives of people who have given so much to our country,” said Dave Isay, Founder and President of StoryCorps.

In each city on the tour, StoryCorps will partner with the local public radio station, which will air a selection of the interviews recorded and host a listening event. We may also share edited versions of select interviews collected throughout the tour as audio stories, animated shorts, or via our best-selling books.

Learn more about StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative.

Supporting Children in Grief With StoryCorps DIY: Road to Resilience

In honor of Children’s Grief Awareness Day we, in partnership with the New York Life Foundation, are proud to announce the launch of StoryCorps DIY: Road to Resilience, an online course for individuals and organizations serving children and families in grief. It’s ready to access as a new expansion of StoryCorps DIY, our set of do-it-yourself resources to help organizations develop their own interview collection projects.

This course provides resources to support grieving children and families in sharing stories. It includes question lists for kids of different ages, best practices for providing a supportive recording environment, partner case studies, animations, audio interviews, and discussion guides.

StoryCorps DIY: Road to Resilience is divided into two sections:

Section 1: Recording Programs for Kids in Grief includes tips and best practices for incorporating recordings into organizations’ work with kids.

Section 2: Engaging with Stories of Kids in Grief focuses on how to encourage meaningful dialogue about the impact of childhood grief. This section includes animations and audio interviews with young people reflecting on their grief experiences.

We invite you to preview select materials below and sign up for the whole course.

StoryCorps DIY: Road to Resilience Project Planning Worksheet
StoryCorps DIY: Road to Resilience Question List
StoryCorps DIY: Road to Resilience Animation Discussion Guide
Animation: Asia and Carmichael Khan



Learn more here about Road to Resilience, a project from StoryCorps in partnership with the New York Life Foundation that leverages the power of stories and storytelling to help children cope with the death of a parent, sibling, or loved one.

Celebrating a Year in Stories at the 2019 StoryCorps Gala

On Thursday, October 24, StoryCorps’ Board, leadership, and supporters gathered at Capitale in New York City to reflect on the past “Year in Stories” — a year of recording, honoring, and sharing the voices of humanity — and to look together toward StoryCorps’ future and impact.

The evening’s honorees — Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP, and Vanita Gupta, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights — shared their stories of what StoryCorps means to them. The tributes to their leadership and civic contributions were framed first by the meaningful introductions made by their award presenters: actress, activist, and author Marlo Thomas to Jo Ann and ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero to Vanita. Their thoughtful remarks and reflections reminded us that listening, an act of love, is today more essential than ever. Scott Simon, host of NPR’s Weekend Edition, brought his intelligent voice and charm as the evening’s host. View more photos of the event here.

StoryCorps participants captivated all in attendance with their powerful stories of courage, loss, and love. Their voices have been featured in broadcasts and captured in animations that have been shared across platforms like Morning Edition, the PBS NewsHour and StoryCorps’ social media channels.

Through the outstanding leadership and generosity of our supporters, the event raised critical funds for the mission at the heart of StoryCorps – to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.

As we look toward the future service of StoryCorps to our community, we’d like to say thanks: for the opportunity to record, honor, and share your stories, and for the support you’ve given that has allowed StoryCorps to work to build a culture of listening, and to remind ourselves and our nation that every voice matters. We’re just getting started.

Top photo montage, left to right: Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP; Vanita Gupta, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Bottom photo montage, left to right: ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero; actress, activist, and author Marlo Thomas.
All photos by Margarita Corporan.

With Temporary Protected Status (TPS) at Risk, a Salvadoran Family’s Fears of Being Torn Apart

“What are you most afraid of?”

“I’m terrified of missing you growing up.”

This month, we’re releasing a new series of animations titled Moments that Define, all about life’s turning points — the difficult choices, helpful gestures, and chance encounters that have shaped, and continue to shape, the lives of StoryCorps participants.

[Get these animations, and more stories of hope, delivered directly to your inbox in our Story of the Week email. Sign up here.]

One of these stories features Maria Rivas and her teenage daughter, Emily. Born in El Salvador, Maria first came to the United States in 2000. After her arrival, she was granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) — meaning she was able to live and work legally in this country.

TPS is a government program that currently applies to people from ten countries: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, TPS may be granted “due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.”

“Conditions” are defined broadly — and have referred to events like the 2010 earthquake in Haiti or the ongoing Somali Civil War, for example.

In 2001, two earthquakes struck El Salvador. According to the New York Times, the U.S. government granted TPS to nearly 200,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S. at that time, including Maria.

In the years that followed, Presidents Bush and Obama extended protections for Salvadoran TPS recipients. In a Washington Post article about the Rivas family, journalist Jennifer Miller wrote that “by Jan. 8, 2018, TPS for Salvadorans had been extended a total of 11 times.”

But in January 2019, the Trump administration announced that TPS was set to expire for people from El Salvador. That means that on September 9, 2019, Maria will most likely have to leave the country. UPDATE: The government has extended TPS for people from El Salvador through January 2, 2020, after being blocked in court.

Over nearly two decades living here, Maria and her family have built a life in the United States. She said she decided she won’t risk taking her children with her to El Salvador — a country they’ve never been to, where gang violence and poverty are rampant. 

Maria said she has decided that her 15-year-old daughter Emily will stay behind in the United States to live with close family friends.

In December 2018, mother and daughter came to StoryCorps to talk about what living apart will mean for their family.

Stonewall OutLoud: A New Documentary

Fifty years ago this week, the Stonewall riots were a turning point in the movement for LGBTQ rights. “Stonewall OutLoud,” a new documentary in partnership with YouTube Originals and World of Wonder Productions, celebrates the voices and memories of people who were there, interpreted by a cast of actors and public figures.

Many of the voices featured were recorded by StoryCorps founder Dave Isay as part of his 1989 radio documentary Remembering Stonewall. For many of the recording participants involved, this was the first time they had ever been interviewed about their experiences at Stonewall.

We’re sharing these stories as part of Stonewall OutLoud, our national effort to record and preserve the voices of LGBTQ elders during this anniversary year. Get inspired by listening to more voices and stories, and pledge to add a recording to the collection.

Amplifying Voices of Museums and Libraries with IMLS

Since 2009, StoryCorps has partnered annually with the Institute of Museum and Library Services to celebrate and amplify the voices of their National Medal recipients. Throughout the years, we have visited countless communities, recording more than 1,600 stories, meeting innovative museum and library staff members and their communities, and learning about the exceptional community service programs these institutions have implemented.

This year, our recordings with 2018 Medal recipients brought us to ten new communities across the country. Listen to some of the incredible stories we’ve recorded:

Nicole Ortiz and London Pollard at Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus in Denver, Colorado

Nicole Ortiz and her son London Pollard, 10, discuss the impact the museum has had on their lives. London talks about his favorite exhibits, what it’s like to have a mom who works in the museum, and how he sees the world as a child diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.

0:00 / 0:00

 

Venita Thompkins and Brenda Bivins at Detroit Historical Society in Detroit, Michigan

Venita Thompkins and her family friend, Brenda Bivins, recall experiencing the Detroit 1967 rebellion as young children. Venita was part of the an oral history project about the ‘67 uprising curated by the Detroit Historical Society, and still lives in the same neighborhood as she did back then. We hear Venita first.

0:00 / 0:00

 

Gaspar Enriquez and Jesus “Cimi” Alvarado at El Paso Museum of Art in El Paso, Texas

Chicano artist Gaspar Enriquez and his friend and former student Jesus “Cimi” Alvarado talk about the impact Gaspar has had on Cimi, on the art community in El Paso, and on Chicano communities.

0:00 / 0:00

 

Kalena Powell and Michele Harber at Georgetown Public Library in Georgetown, Texas

Kalena Powell and Michele Harber talk about their respective paths that led them to work at the Georgetown Public Library in Georgetown, Texas. Michele, who is now retired, started the library’s community outreach program — including the Bookmobile — after becoming a librarian in her 60s.

0:00 / 0:00

 

Ron Dunlap and Sabrina Robins at History Museum at the Castle in Appleton, Wisconsin

Friends Ron Dunlap and Sabrina Robins share their respective experiences as African-Americans moving to Appleton in the Fox Valley at a time when it was a predominantly white community. Ron moved to Appleton in 1990 to become an elementary school principal and Sabrina moved to Appleton in 2000. The two met through African Heritage, Inc., a community organization for African-Americans in the Fox Cities area.

0:00 / 0:00

 

James Wantz and Karen Bennett at Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene, Oregon

James Wantz and Karen Bennett talk about the crochet group that Karen led as a volunteer in an Oregon state prison where James was an inmate.

0:00 / 0:00

 

Craig Wilkins and Danielle King at Orange County Library System in Orlando, Florida

Craig Wilkins tells his coworker Danielle King about his long career as a librarian at the Orlando Public Library.

0:00 / 0:00

 

Jessi Ones, Paxton, and Everett Ones at Pueblo City-County Library District in Pueblo, New Mexico

Jessi Ones and her sons, 7-year-old Paxton and 4-year-old Everett, talk about their love of the Pueblo Library. We hear first from Paxton.

0:00 / 0:00

 

Hillary Saylor Schulze and Carolyn Holleran at Reading Public Library in Reading, Pennsylvania

Hillary Saylor Schulze and Carolyn Holleran talk about their love of libraries, particularly the public library in Reading, Pennsylvania, where Hillary grew up and still lives. We hear first from Hillary.

0:00 / 0:00

 

Danny and Teagan Solis at Rochester Public Library in Rochester, Minnesota

Danny Solis talks with his son Teagan, 11, about their family’s move to Rochester, and his efforts to bring Chicanx tradition and culture to their new hometown.

0:00 / 0:00