Live Event Seeks Immigrant and Refugee Storytellers

immigrant storytellers

Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) is partnering with The Moth, the Peabody Award-winning nonprofit dedicated to the craft of first-person storytelling, to feature the experiences of immigrants and refugees during a live storytelling event at Stronger Together: Immigrants, Philanthropy, and the American DreamGCIR’s biennial national convening in Austin, Texas on May 4, 2016.

What are we looking for?

We are seeking immigrant and refugee storytellers from diverse backgrounds who have compelling perspectives to share on any the following topics:

  • The migration journey. What did it take for you and your family to come to the United States and build new lives here? What have you found to be unexpected or surprising about this experience? What challenges did you encounter along the way, and what your lives are like today?
  • The “American Dream” in the contemporary context. What does the “American Dream” mean to you as an immigrant or refugee? Has your perception changed over time – and if so, how does it inform your thinking about your life today and the future that you envision for yourself or your family?
  • Race, racism, xenophobia, and IslamophobiaTell us about a time when you confronted issues of race, racism, xenophobia, and/or Islamophobia as an immigrant or refugee in the United States. How did you handle the situation? What did you take away from the experience, and how has it affected your outlook?
  • U.S. immigration policy. How have federal, state, and local immigration policies impacted you, your family, and/or your community? Compelling stories may connect to a wide range of issues, including, but not limited to, immigration enforcement, detention, and deportation; access to education, health care, and driver’s licenses; and the process of seeking various forms of immigration relief.
  • The 1.5 or 2nd generation experience. Tell us about your experience as a 1.5 or second-generation immigrant child or youth. For example, was there a particular time when you had to serve as a bridge to U.S. society for your parents? How has navigating two (or more) cultures played out in terms of your education or other aspects of your life?
  • Workplace and workers’ rights issues. Share your perspective as an immigrant or refugee worker in the United States. Was there a time that faced a difficult situation in the workplace? How did you address it – and what happened as a result? Have you moved up the economic ladder as a result of building new skills or getting a life-changing break?

For inspiration, listen to Moth storyteller Dori Samadzai Bonner and other stories from the Moth Radio Hour and The Moth Podcast.

We seek applicants that represent the diversity of the immigrant and refugee population in the United States, including individuals of any gender, race and ethnicity, legal status, sexual orientation and identity, age, ability, etc.

How do you apply?

Submit a two-minute version of your story to Michael Kavate by February 15, 2016. (All common audio and video file formats are acceptable, as are recordings via smartphone. Please share the files with us via a link or in a compressed format.) Due to the nature of this event, all submissions must be in English.

Please include the following information with your submission: (1) name, (2) city and state of residence, (3) contact information (email and phone), and (4) a short paragraph about yourself. Entrants are welcome to use a pseudonym to protect their identity.

How will storytellers be chosen?

All entries will be reviewed by staff from GCIR and The Moth, who will evaluate submissions based on the criteria outlined above, and select three storytellers to perform at the convening. The Moth and GCIR will contact potential storytellers for short phone interviews in the weeks following the submission deadline.

What will happen next?

Three storytellers chosen for the show will work one-on-one with a Moth Director in a series of phone calls to craft their story for the stage. All selected storytellers will participate in an in-person rehearsal on May 3, 2016. The show will take place on May 4, 2016 in front of a live audience and will be recorded for the Moth’s archives. (Travel and lodging will be covered.)


Please contact Michael Kavate with any concerns or queries.

We look forward to hearing your stories!


The Moth is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling, and a recipient of a 2012 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions (MACEI). Through its ongoing programs—The Moth Mainstage, The Moth StorySLAMs, The Moth Community & Education Programs, and Moth Corporate Programs—The Moth has presented more than ten thousand stories, told live and without notes, to standing-room-only crowds worldwide. The Moth podcast is downloaded nearly 25 million times a year, and the Peabody Award-winning The Moth Radio Hour, produced by Jay Allison and presented by PRX, The Public Radio Exchange, airs weekly on over 500 radio stations nationwide. The new Moth Mobile App for iOS and Android, and the international bestseller, The Moth: 50 True Stories (Hyperion/Serpent’s Tail), are available now.

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