Breaking down barriers, building connections

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Yosselin Perla
  • 18 Wing Public Affairs


Airmen from across the base gathered at the Erwin PME Center auditorium to listen to resiliency stories during a Storytellers event hosted at Kadena Air Base, May 6, 2021. 

“Storytellers is a raw, uncut resiliency event where people share their personal stories of their trials and tribulations that they’ve gone through, but also how they’ve overcome them,” explained Master Sgt. Maurice Monroe, Storytellers event coordinator. 

Unlike other resiliency events, the Storytellers event allows people to tell their stories and spark interpersonal connections as it’s taking place. 

“A lot of the time we go to resiliency events and there’s only PowerPoint slides being presented,” he said. “Here you can actually see that behind this uniform there is an actual person that has gone through tough times and has overcome them.”

The event aims to build connections that allow Airmen to feel comfortable reaching out for help if they ever find themselves going through a difficult time.  

Personal journeys shared at Storytellers events can be about any life experience and don’t have to be related to the military. Participants at the event spoke on a wide range of hardships they’ve overcome such as alcohol abuse and relationship problems to more unique experiences such as surviving a helicopter crash, all with the intention of sharing their stories in hopes to connect with others. 

Tech. Sgt. Jessica Cunningham, Airman Leadership School director of operations, hopes the Storytellers event will foster stronger bonds in the workplace among peers and coworkers. 

“Connection comes from our willingness to be vulnerable,” she said. “You can’t build trust and connection without being willing to open up.” 

All of the speakers at the Storytellers event shared their need for support from others in order to begin the process of bettering their lives. 

“A lot of the stories I’ve heard over the last few years, I’ve been told that it’s been their coworkers that help them find the resources. It’s their coworkers that talk them through things and help them move out of a bad situation,” Cunningham said. “We’re seeing examples of people that are strong and successful because they reached out for help; they were able to be built up with the help of others, when they couldn’t do it themselves.”