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Breaking down barriers, building connections

Photo from the Storytellers event  held on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 6, 2021.

Airmen from the 18th Wing, pose for a photo after speaking at a Storytellers event at Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 6, 2021. The Airmen spoke about topics including alcohol abuse, relationship problems and surviving a helicopter crash. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Yosselin Perla)

Photo from Storytellers event held on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 6, 2021.

U.S. Air Force Tech.Sgt. Mica Fuller, 82nd Reconnaissance Squadron NCO in charge of Command Support Staff, shares her story of overcoming a divorce during a Storytellers event at Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 6, 2021. Fuller turned to fitness as a way to get through the difficult time in her life. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Yosselin Perla)

Photo from Storytellers event held on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 6, 2021.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jessica Nunez, an Airman Leadership School instructor for the 18th Wing, speaks during a Storytellers event at Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 6, 2021. Nunez shared her story to spread awareness of verbal abuse in relationships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Yosselin Perla)

Photo from Storytellers event held on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 6, 2021.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Christopher Hill, 18th Logistic Readiness Squadron Operations and Compliance superintendent, tells his story of overcoming alcohol abuse during a Storytellers event at Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 6, 2021. The Storytellers event allowed Airmen to share stories of overcoming hardships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Yosselin Perla)

Photo from Storytellers event held on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 6, 2021.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Adam Konair, 18th Operations Group Standards and Evaluations superintendent, recounts his story of surviving a helicopter crash during a Storytellers event at Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 6, 2021. Konair asked attendees to close their eyes at the beginning of his story to help them visualize the night of the helicopter crash. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Yosselin Perla)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan --

 

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.”