Sharing your story
When you donate an object to the Museum, we encourage you also to send a story related to that object—how you acquired it, who made it, how it relates to the culture or your work, and why it’s meaningful to you as a symbol of your Peace Corps service. These suggestions may help:
- Suggested length for stories is 300 to 700 words.
- Each Museum story illuminates the experiences of a Peace Corps volunteer in a particular society, event, or type of service. The story is designed so that readers gain insight into the risks and rewards of being immersed in an unfamiliar culture while facing difficult challenges. A story may be entertaining, but the writer’s essential purpose is to inform and inspire.
- Interesting stories begin with a scene — a specific place, preferably a scene that includes the person or people who are at the center of the story.
- In the opening scene (or soon afterward) the writer presents a problem or conflict associated with the object that is being contributed to the Museum. Descriptions of objects may appear anywhere in the story, but the central conflict or question should be presented in the opening paragraphs.
- The surest way to engage a reader’s attention is to organize the narrative around the specific problem that is discussed within the confines of the story. A single problem is preferable when telling a story in this short, 700-word format. Trying to squeeze in multiple problems is likely to dampen the reader’s interest.
- Writers should Include sensory details wherever appropriate—sights, sounds, odors, sensations, tastes. Emotional responses – such as sadness, anger, or surprise — are generally more effective when described indirectly in situations, rather than directly, in detail.
- Sentences will have greater impact if they’re short. In this genre, less is more. If possible, avoid long, compound sentences made up of several clauses joined together with “and.” Avoid passive-voice sentences (in which actions are performed “by” an unknown cause or person). Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly. Examine every phrase to see whether the idea can be expressed with simplicity and clarity. Try to eliminate oft-repeated words, phrases or concepts.
- When writing the first draft, just tell the story. The Museum’s curators will mold the first draft into a second, third or more drafts. The authors and editors collaborate to eliminate all spelling, grammar, style, or usage errors during these exchanges. Eventually, the story will be considered ready for publication.
- The story’s writer should submit photographs, including images of the donated object, as well as the the setting where the volunteer served. A recent headshot of the author is the essential last step. The Museum’s curators may insert several links websites (such as Wikipedia) in order to clarify unfamiliar words, places or concepts. When the story is completed, the editor may ask the author to read it aloud over the phone. We will post the recordings on the website next to the written version of the story.
- Leaving home
- Culture differences
- Daily life
- Volunteer service
- What they taught me
- What I learned
- Returning home
Your story may be edited before it is uploaded on the website or exhibited.