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Yvonne Young

Photo by Paul Neevel.

“My mother always read to me,” says storyteller Yvonne Young, a native of Grand Junction, Colo. “My dad, his dad and my uncle all told stories.” Young studied elementary education at CU in Boulder, married a seminary student, moved to California, and taught for eight years at Hamilton Air Base. They moved north for his one-year post as campus pastor in Corvallis, where she gave birth to a daughter, Heather. Two years later, he left the family, and she went back to work. “I got a job at Willagillespie School in ’74, the year that kindergarten started in Eugene,” says Young, who began telling stories during 13 years at the school. “We had a storyteller for a week, and I heard kids listen like I’d never heard them listen.” She took a year off for an interdisciplinary masters degree in storytelling, then returned to teaching, this time at Willakenzie School, for 10 more years, until 1997. She worked as artist-in-residence for the Lane Arts Council, and helped out with Bob Rubinstein’s Multicultural Storytelling Festival throughout its 20-year history. “On Tuesday, I told stories at Meadowview School,” she says. “Last Saturday, I told Turkish stories at the Haley Ford Museum in Salem.” In November, Young will travel to Plum Village, the Buddhist retreat in France, founded by Thich Nhat Hanh, for a residency of up to six months, teaching ESL and storytelling to Vietnamese nuns.