Welcome back to our Mobile Tour Blog Series! I’m Manuela, a Bilingual Facilitator on the StoryCorps Mobile Tour. I started traveling with the Tour back in October 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. After exploring Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Michigan, I’m now entering into the final two months of my year-long Mobile journey.
There have been ups and downs, unique experiences and stories, and, for me, a few different haircuts. Through it all, I’ve cherished my adventures with the Mobile Tour team over the last 10 months.
If you remember my colleague Sarah’s posts from last year, you’ll recall that in each Mobile Tour stop we have three team members on the ground: two facilitators and a site manager. A third facilitator spends a few weeks to a month at home doing their remote “office stint” before rotating back onto the road for their “road stint.” Right now, I’m hanging back from road time in my final office stint, working remotely for four weeks from Brooklyn where I live part-time.
Being in-office means researching future stops, building partnerships with organizations across the country, playing phone-tag with participants, and working with our amazing office team: Sarah, our Community Partnerships Manager, Quin, our Participant Relations Associate, and Lea, our Mobile Tour Director!
Office time also means home time. Though I haven’t lived in Brooklyn long, it’s so special to have the chance to be with friends, explore New York City, and generally catch my breath before going back out on the road. I’m soaking up time with my loved ones before I head out at the end of August, joining the team in Green Bay, Wisconsin for my final road stint.
As I start the last leg of my time on the Mobile Tour, I find myself reflecting on the people, places, and questions we’ve encountered. Rolling around the country in a pretty unique job inevitably leads to curiosity about the many moving parts of our lives! I thought I’d share with you some real questions frequently asked to my colleagues and I while traveling on the road.
Q: Do you sleep in the airstream?
A: I am thankful to share that no, we do not sleep in the airstream. We live together in housing arranged by the radio station we partner with at each stop, which has included (but is not limited to): Airbnbs, long-term hotel suites, and the spare homes of stop partners. We do little things to make each place feel like home – for instance, my colleagues Delilah, Franchesca, and I each kept flowers in our hotel suites in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Q: Do you drive “that thing” yourself?
A: The answer is no – the Mobile Facilitators do not have to haul the airstream (a gift to drivers everywhere). We hire a professional to haul our airstream to each new stop while we make the road trip in our StoryCorps vehicles. Here’s my old co-facilitator, Naomi, scraping snow off of our minivan during our wintry stop in Taos, New Mexico!
Q: What is the most memorable conversation you’ve facilitated?
A: After facilitating nearly 200 conversations, it’s difficult to choose just one. Every single recording I’ve facilitated is special to me – I’ve learned so much bearing witness to heartfelt expressions of love, tears, and wisdom in the booth. In my first few weeks on the Mobile Tour in San Antonio, Texas, still feeling disoriented from the whirlwind of starting a new life on the road, I do recall a conversation that grounded me in just how special this work is. As mother and daughter Conchetta Brown (65) and Nidera Brown (43) reflected on their relationship, death, and remembrance, I felt myself really start to understand what a gift it is to listen. You can listen to their full conversation here – I recommend playing from 6:05 to 10:40.