Sunday afternoon event is the second annual ‘Storytelling Jam’ in Ashland
By Barb Settles for Ashland.News
Stories from around the world will be told in Ashland as returned Peace Corps volunteers gather to share their experiences on Sunday afternoon at Trinity Church.
The storytelling event comes on the heels of National Peace Corps Week, Feb. 26 through March 4, which marks the founding on March 1, 1961, of the corps by President John F. Kennedy. In the 50 years since, 240,000 American volunteers have served in 142 host countries. Today, after restructuring due to COVID evacuations, volunteers and trainers now number 7,339, serving in 61 host countries. Peace Corps is back in action.
The large local contingent of returned volunteers has formed the Southern Oregon Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, which will host its second Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Storytelling Jam on Sunday afternoon. Returned volunteers will tell stories of their global experiences in various host countries, keeping each story at no more than 10 minutes. Stories will highlight Albania, Fiji, Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay, and Senegal.
Goals of the National Peace Corps are to share American culture with host countries, to provide skills to host country nationals, and to continue an ongoing knowledge of the service experience in life after fulfillment of the Peace Corps service.
Through the event in Ashland, volunteers work to maintain the last goal, using stories to continue an ongoing knowledge of the Peace Corps experience.
Carol Spahn is the newly appointed National Peace Corps Director who served in Romania in 1994-96. She heads programs from education to Peace Corps Response, which sends volunteers out to serve in emergency disasters. The volunteers throughout the world are in Africa (45%), Central and South America (19%), Eastern Europe and Central Asia (13%), Asia (12%), the Pacific Islands (4%), the Caribbean (5%) and North Africa and the Middle East (4%).
Southern Oregon Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV), originally called the State of Jefferson Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, has been gathering in the Rogue Valley for over 30 years, currently with Josh O’Malley as president. It holds social meetings at least four times a year, holds events to raise funds for local and RPCV projects, participates in multicultural events, and is available to the region for presentations on Peace Corps service. SORPCV has about 200 members on its roster, with about 30 to 50 members gathering regularly.
The second Storytelling Jam will be held at the Parish Hall of Trinity Church at 44 North 2nd St., Ashland. Doors open at 1:30 p.m., with stories and refreshments pouring out from 2 until 4 p.m. Sunday, March 19.
Donations of $10 or more will be used for projects helping those in need. In the past, the Makena Children’s Foundation in Kenya, Foundry Village of Josephine County, Ashland Family Y childcare program in Jackson County, and a Trinity Church project received funding from the storytelling event.
Sources for this article include: peacecorps.gov/about/ and peacecorps.gov/news/fast-facts/. Barb Settles was a student in the Community Journalism at Ashland.news class at the Osher Lifelong Learning (OLLI) Institute in the winter quarter. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.