Pia is a school librarian whose profession would point toward her love of story. But Pia’s love of storytelling started when she was just a girl in Chile and her dad was her library.

“When I was a kid, my dad was an amazing storyteller.” Pia reflected. “We didn’t have many books in the house, because books were super expensive in Chile. We had an 18 or 20% tax on books. So my dad would tell us stories.”

Each child had their own character, a fitting animal for each person. “My oldest brother was an owl because he loved reading, my second brother was a fox because he was super alert and always knew where to go, my sister was the sun angel because she was blonde and had a round face and my youngest brother, Alvaro was el pato cucharón (a duck with a big beak) because he was like a little duck talking all the time. And I? I was the pigeon, because I was super close to him and in Spanish, it’s a Chilean word, it’s translated different, it means kind of like spoiled but in this case meaning you like to cuddle and you’re a little bit of the favorite. And I wanted to be a doctor, so I was the doctor pigeon.”

When Pia was a little girl, her dad would use stories to distract her in tough moments, like the first time she encountered snow, and she was disappointed because she didn’t realize it was so cold. “I thought that the snow was like cotton that you just touch. I was so cold! My hands, my feet. So I started crying and my dad’s way of consoling me was telling me why the pigeon has red feet. The mama pigeon had a little chick who was upset so she started making red stockings so her feet would stay warm. He made it all up and after that, we were constantly asking him to tell us stories on long drives in the car. Even my brother who was fourteen still wanted to hear dad’s stories.”

When Pia joined The Certificate in Community Storytelling Training, she wanted to bring the power of story to the children she serves at the Redmond School District, specifically the Spanish speaking families. So, she created “Cuento Contigo,” a bilingual, bimonthly storytelling gathering at a local middle school. Each gathering has a theme: Home. Heritage. Celebrations. Holidays. She invites stories about care. Stories about kindness, compassion and love.

After the first gathering, she realized it would be helpful to have an activity to engage while sharing stories. “You know how when you are in the kitchen cooking, everybody gathers and gossips or tells stories? You might not say much at the table, but in the kitchen, when you are cooking you can’t stop sharing!” With that observation in mind, Pia set Piñata making stations for parents and children to create while they shared stories of memorable family holidays and celebrations. On Valentine’s Day she invited families to make friendship bracelets and share moments of care and friendship. Through this experiment, families strengthened relationships with one another and with others from the Spanish speaking community.

When asked about her experience of The Certificate in Community Storytelling Training, she laughed, “It was incredible. I mean, I cried a lot, but in a good way. It was a way of understanding yourself and others. And for me knowing the stories of others is super powerful. Just to experience the similarities and differences we have with other people. Also to be open to the differences. The things that we don’t agree with. You learn to hold a lot of gratitude and acceptance for yourself and others. In my case personally, I think it created more compassion not only for others, and now people I meet, but also, I learned to hold more kindness towards myself too.”