Naomi and Leah read a newspaper

No Comedy Without Conflict

Conflict is at the heart of most comedy. But if everyone gets along, there’s not much to laugh at.

No Comedy Without Conflict?

One of the great joys of physical comedy is watching a fight unfold. Clowns are relatable because they wear their heart on their sleeve, much as a toddler might go from laughter, to shock, to tears, and back to laughter. What may start with one clown mistakenly taking the other’s suitcase can escalate into an all-out brawl.

Clowns Without Borders shows come together very quickly, so we rely on easily accessible, common vocabulary. As a performer, I love slapstick. It’s a nearly universal clown language, and I have so much fun getting carried away in the absurdity of a clown fight. But when clowning in conflict zones, some of the familiar slapstick tropes lose their charm. For communities experiencing acute or generational violence, a punch is not a punchline—it’s an exhausting reality.

Is It Safe?

I noticed this firsthand in Myanmar. CWB – USA toured in partnership with Mines Advisory Group, and part of the show contained safety messages about explosives. Our ideas for the show had to be approved, and also needed to uphold the educational messaging. We couldn’t add anything to the show that made mines look fun, or showed us playing with a mine. Nor could we add anything that made light of an explosion or injury.

This meant that a lot of our initial ideas were cut. One was to pretend the diavalo was a mine and play a comedic game of “hot potato.” Of course, this meant the clowns would have to touch “a mine,” which went directly against the safety message. Ditto for the idea of a ball rolling into an unsafe area, and the clowns using acrobatics to get it back. Finally, after a lot of trial and a lot of error, we found a story that worked: The clowns are arriving in a new place and learning about what’s safe for that area.

Is It Funny?

As we learned about the real-life consequences of living with land mine contamination, it felt considerably less fun to create violence or aggression in the show. In response, we shifted some of the slapstick moments. Instead of overt clown conflict, our conflict was accidental (mostly). This meant that when Andres took a bow, he would accidentally hit Leah and me. Instead of pulling Leah’s pants down, they would fall off “accidentally” as she jumped rope. We decided that it was more fun to be clumsy (very, very clumsy) than overtly violent.

The most violent part of the show was when Leah stole my newspaper. This results in a tug of war, but Leah gets so carried away that she continues the tugging action after I stop. To get her attention, I tap her with the rolled up newspaper, which sends her into a dramatic fall. This leads to “Dead or Alive,” a skit wherein one clown (Leah) pretends to be dead, and the other (me) goes into hysterics. Why is it funny to watch one clown grieve her friend’s death, especially for an audience who shares this experience? Maybe because the outcome (death) doesn’t match the action (a tap from a newspaper). Or maybe because we know all along that this is a joke on me. As I sob, over Leah’s “dead” body, she sits up and makes fun of me. It reminds the audience that this is all a game.

What Do We Want To Leave Behind?

Ultimately, each group of clowns works together with local partners to decide what is appropriate for the team and the audience. Sometimes, like this summer in Colombia, we have a specific request not to include violence. Other times, the team makes those decisions on its own. We always ask, “What archetypes are harmful to uphold?” and, “Is there a way to shift some of the norms around how violence might normally play out?”

So for Clowns Without Borders, “No comedy without conflict” isn’t always true. Rather, we say, “No comedy to promote or normalize violence.”


How much does a tour cost?

As CWB – USA’s Executive Director, I’m frequently asked: “How much will this project cost?”

The short answer is: “It depends!”

Why? Because each tour has different logistical and security needs. In the interest of transparency, here’s a deep dive into project costs and an overview of different types of projects.

Basic Costs

Every tour starts with the same basic needs: travel, food, and shelter.


I budget travel in two categories: Travel to/from the project location, and transportation during the tour itself. This is where we start to see some of the biggest variations in cost. Travel from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico, versus New York to Beirut, Lebanon, is a difference of $1,000.

Next, there’s the cost of getting from our tour HQ to the shows. In Guatemala, we rented a car and the clowns drove themselves ($1,500). Same in Lebanon, but the cost was much less ($400). In Puerto Rico, CWB clown Arturo donated the use of his van, so we covered gas plus wear and tear ($400).


Accommodations are another variable expense. In Cali, Colombia, the clowns stayed in someone’s home ($0). A university donated rooms in Guatemala City($0). In Beirut, we rented an apartment ($700). For both tours to Puerto Rico, we rented space in a private home ($1200). On other tours, teams have slept in churches, in tents, or in NGO accommodation with the partner organization.

My preference is always to keep money local. This means that whenever possible, we look to rent directly from a person. Security, convenience, and comfort (in that order) all impact the decision of where we stay. Ideally, everyone gets their own bed, but that’s not always possible


I typically budget $30 per clown, per day, for food. In places where it is safe to do so, artists can buy their own food and manage their personal food budget. In other situations, the team buys groceries together and splits the effort of food preparation. Frequently, our partners provide meals.

Often, but not always, our audiences are experiencing food scarcity. This adds to the complexity of when we eat and what we eat. On our most recent tour to Mexico, the artists were invited to eat with migrants in the shelters. The clowns were hungry after those meals, and so would buy additional food to consume in private. On other tours, audiences will offer a meal or refreshment as thanks.

Cost and Audience

There is no direct correlation between how much a tour costs and how many people it reaches. Guatemala was among our most expensive tours, yet it reached a relatively small number of people. Our commitment is to produce tours that fit the needs of the region and local partner(s). In Guatemala, the volcanic eruption impacted tiny communities, so the artists found themselves performing for intimate groups of people, rather than huge crowds.

Our tours respond to situations as they unfold. While I have a general idea of where many of our tours will be this year, most of the logistics remain unknown. Having a base of recurring donors provides the necessary cash flow to accommodate all the variables of planning a tour.

Clowns run in a circle inside a giant hula hoop

Organizing In a Crisis

Clowns Without Borders is planning a tour to the US/Mexico border. Molly Rose Levine created a document for those considering arts/children’s/cultural interventions to support the children and families currently seeking asylum at the US/Mexico border, specifically in Tijuana. Molly Rose compiled this information through conversations with grassroots partners and those working with asylum seekers in the region. We share it here with the hope that all arts-organizers can be respectful, safe, and effective.


In November, 2018, nearly 8,000 people arrived in Tijuana, Mexico. There are between seven and eight thousand people sheltering in the city, and so far 6,000 are in line to submit for asylum. Asylum seekers have been moved to two new shelters more than ten miles away from the border. Though these camps are run by Mexico’s federal government, they’re operated by NGO committees, which remain largely responsible for providing services. The flow of people is still increasing, and expected to increase for some time.

Asylum seekers and migrants who do not choose to self-deport, once registered for asylum, are expected to remain in Tijuana for six months to a year as they wait to process their applications and receive court dates. During the time that a person is in the process of seeking asylum in the US, they’re not allowed to obtain a work permit in Mexico. As more caravans arrive at the border, challenges to human services, waste management, and infrastructure will probably continue to be met by humanitarian aid services, mutual aid organization, grassroots networks, and volunteers.

Project Guidelines: Best practices according to local contacts and NGO coalitions:

Listen to your local partners: This is the most important guideline. As an outside group, your job is to be reactive to the needs of your grassroots partners and stakeholder community. They are the experts in their situation and their needs. You are here to support them. Listen authentically and humbly. Be prepared to react to new and emerging situations. Understand that you might think that you have a “better” idea, but if the people most affected by the disaster don’t want it, then it’s not the right idea. Leave your ego at home.

1-to-1 Spanish speaker ratio: If your team includes a non-spanish speaker, make sure that each non-spanish speaker has a spanish speaking counterpart. This is to ease communication with the community members, ongoing service providers and organizers and to make sure that everyone clearly understands safety protocols.

No photos/ No videos: There is already a large presence of media and journalists.

Only US & Mexican citizens: There is a precedent that volunteers coming into the area on a visa are at risk of being arrested and having their visa revoked/being deported. Keep your team safe and make sure to only bring citizens at this time.

Do not promote your programming until it is OVER: This one may be counterintuitive as you look to crowdfund your idea. There is tension between the host communities and asylum seekers, and as “cultural” programming and psycho-social support, some members of the host community can see your promotion as “advertising” which is “encouraging” the continued flow of people to the border. This can and has created a backlash and increased stigma against the asylum seekers. For this reason, you should not promote your project on social media (you aren’t supposed to photograph anyone anyway) until the programming is over, or unless you are doing something in very deep collaboration with a local partner who is advising your media presence. Once you’re back home? Use your writing skills to advocate for whatever your take-away was from the project. Let your experience educate others.

No political actions: Different people have different jobs in a crisis area. Some people are going to the border to march and to support a political agenda, which is their right. If you are going to provide services for people who have experienced trauma, your political agenda is more likely to create a backlash against them, than it is against you. If you are working with an artistic intervention, or representing child friendly programming, do not participate in marches in your free time. This can create a backlash with the host community, with your local partners, and ultimately harm those you are intending to support.

Take crisis-informed safety precautions: Borders are generally a place where you should take safety precautions, and crisis only increases that reality. There are instances of violence, drug trafficking, and other illegal activities happening around the border, putting asylum seekers, the host community, and service providers at risk.

Follow the same safety protocols that are good practice in a refugee camp or in a conflict zone. This is a humanitarian crisis, and all volunteers should be aware of safety norms. Talk about your safety protocols as a group before you arrive. Stay with your local contact/fixer/handler, travel as a group, do not walk alone at night, and be aware of your surroundings. Do not drink to excess, or use illegal drugs. Respect the cultural norms of the communities where you stay. Make sure someone outside of your group has a copy of your itinerary and the ways to be in touch with you, in case of an emergency. Listen to your local partners and leave the hubris at home. Do not try to be a hero.

The situation is changing rapidly. CWB will continue to update this information as we receive it. You may find the original content here.

Clowns play with a group of kids

Local Actions, Larger Purpose

In December, 2018, a group of CWB clowns partnered with Oakland Catholic Workers for their holiday celebration. OCW serves the Bay Area immigrant community through food distribution, language classes, and transitional housing. At the holiday party, parents receive wrapped presents to distribute to their children on Christmas. 

James Green

By the time we arrived at the church, a line of about 30 or 40 families had already formed at the door. They waited to enter the hall, where they would receive a black plastic bag of wrapped gifts to bring home.

The clown ensemble gathered, and we were on. The five of us fell into a procession. We paraded down the line, greeting people with gags and the sounds of an accordion. After a bit or two, we would retreat to the hall to regroup and discuss our next entrance. We repeated this process for the next few hours. 

I watched both children and adults light up when they were invited to play with the clowns, or when they saw someone ride out on their new bicycle. This experience highlighted something I’ve recently learned about clowning: It’s a gift, something to be given. A gift of presence and curiosity, stupidity, resilience and joy.  

It was a special treat to collaborate with Oakland Catholic Workers. On my first circus tour in 2016, I experienced a long and unexpected layover in St. Louis, MO. The people I met there, who were involved with the Catholic Worker movement, helped me find food and housing when I needed it. 

It was sweet to come back to this organization some years later, to sharing circus skills they indirectly helped me develop.  

Sabrina Wenske

There are so many moments that stand out: When a couple of little kids were brave enough to stand on our legs to make a human pyramid; When the whole line of families clapped for us before we even started clowning; When I got a personal hug at the end of the day from a family that could not speak English well, but told us they were happy to see clowns.

It was such a joy to assemble five clowns and work out our schtick. We found a phone app that makes fart noises (!) so there was already an abundance of delight.

Bonding over Bubbles

November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the first day of our current tour in Haiti. Clowns Without Borders’ primary audience is children, but we also perform for their adult caregivers. The UN estimates that over half of the world’s migrants and displaced people are women and children. Too often, the experience of displacement or war includes sexual- or gender-based violence (SGBV).

Bonding over Bubbles

Camilla Rud, who joined our 2016 tour to Haiti, shares this story from a tour to Bangladesh with Clowns Without Borders – Sweden:

“Our mission was to work with the bonding problematic between mothers and children due to the fact that the kids were a result of rape. We had to do really small simple games to start with. We placed all the mothers in a circle with their children in front of them.

We started with just bouncing a balloon between us. No one can resist hitting a balloon that comes towards them. Then the bubbles came out. The clowns started  blowing bubbles and the mothers and children tried to catch or break them. After a while, we let the mothers blow the bubbles for their children. Everything started very gentle and soft but at the end we were all laughing and playing together.”

UN Day to End Violence Against Women

2018’s International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women coincides with the start date of our tour in Haiti. This tour, led by Clowns Without Borders – Canada, focuses on reaching victims of SGBV and raising awareness about the issue.

Clowns lead a workshop for MSF caregivers, in Haiti

A young lion completes the three-person pyramid

Right To Play

When we think about human rights we often think of physical well-being and immediate needs, like food, water, and safety. At Clowns Without Borders, when we think about human rights, we focus on the right to play.

The Right to Play

Yes, the right to play. Just as everyone is entitled to freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion, and the right to food, everyone is also entitled to the right to play. Article 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the Right to Play.

Of course, play is more than a moment of joy. Play is how children learn. Just like clowns, children try on different roles, acting out the scenarios and relationships they see modeled around them. Play is how they challenge each other, create imaginary worlds, and discover their own strengths.

Clowns Without Borders – Sweden received feedback from a project partner that sums up the importance of play: “Before the clowns came, the children played war. Now they play clown.”

Universal Children’s Day

On November 20, 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Thirty years later, the UN adopted the Convention of the Rights of the Child. In addition to special protections for children, it’s the first international treaty that explicitly extends human rights to children.
CLowns lift child

Today, Universal Children’s Day 2018, we celebrate the children who had the idea for Clowns Without Borders. That’s right, the idea for CWB came from children! Children in a Balkan-region refugee camp wrote to children in Spain, “We’re okay. We have food. We have shelter. We have medicine. But what we miss is laughter.” Long story short, the kids in Spain found a clown (Tortell Poltrona) and suggested that he offer a free performance to their new friends. Voila, Clowns Without Borders was born.

Clowns Without Borders exists because Tortell trusted the wisdom and creativity of children. To this day, CWB seeks to emulate and reinforce that trust in each performance. When we train new artists, we emphasize an ethos of “lifting up the child” (often literally!). This means that it’s the child, not the clown, who’s the star of the show. It’s the child, not the clown, who sets the pace and discovers many of the punchlines.

Lift The Child

clowns lift child

Lift the child up—you can see this in pictures of kids on shoulders, kids on buckets, kids on stage. Some of our best performance moments, spontaneous and planned, happen when we invite our young audience members onstage and let them have the spotlight.

For children, play is education. Join us as we promote this right.

How does social circus prevent youth violence?

Guest Blogger: Charlotte Byram, Circus Harmony

CWB-USA and CWB-Brazil have partnered with The Ministry of Health Psychosocial Support Programming in San Salvador. The tour specifically focuses on leading workshops for youth in gang-controlled neighborhood. You may be wondering, what do clown workshops, youth violence prevention, and the ministry of health have in common?

Today’s blog post comes from Charlotte Byram: circus educator, creative movement coach, and public health researcher. You can read more of Charlotte’s work on her website.

Inherent in its daily activities, social circus is an incredible tool to promote youth resilience and prevent youth from engaging in lifestyles characterized by violent behaviors. More than just “keeping kids off the streets”, this play-to-purpose transformative process works similarly to a Positive Youth Development approach and can be described by three pathways: future aspirations, supportive relationships, and community citizenship.

Logic Model of Circus Resilience Theory


  • Supportive relationships is about having role models in addition to building safe and encouraging peer networks. These relationships are a source of emotional and instrumental support for youth in their daily struggles, and can provide the necessary guidance to secure employment or apply to university.
  • Future aspirations includes a youth’s optimism about the future, expected educational achievement or careers, and the ability to set and reach useful goals. Due to difficult environments, many at-risk youth have low expectations for their futures; through incremental skill progressions, youth build self-efficacy and confidence to transcend their status quo.
  • Focusing on an individual’s unique contributions to the success of a team, the community citizenship pathway develops a youth’s sense of responsibility. The youth’s voice is heard and respected, empowering them to give back to their community and create their own social change.

For participating youth, the three pathways develop simultaneously and are strongly interdependent. This interdependency has consequences for successful evaluation, as the methods employed will overlap and interpretation of results will consist of fluid impressions, rather than discrete categories. Social circus additionally exhibits a dose-response relationship, increasing resilience benefits with increasing amounts of circus learning time.


Performance in Sierra Leone

Why is there a kid on a bucket?

Our show ends as it begins, with music. Music provides a safe mode through which we catalyze an initial connection with our audience and then later facilitate a smooth exit. The last two days we were invited to perform at two different homes for children who had lost their parents or caretakers to Ebola. The children we performed for eagerly joined us on stage to participate in our magic tricks. They pulled the metal bucket off of my foot after I had accidentally stepped into it. They attacked Apple’s bubbles with unkempt joy. They danced with us at the end of the show, each taking turns to stand atop our metal bucket and show the rest of the crowd their dance moves, their strength.

We end our show with a dance party for two reasons. One is that our work is about the child, for the child and we believe the child’s place is center-stage. The second…well, read on!

Performance in Sierra Leone

After the dance party ended and we changed out of our sweat soaked costumes, o we met with a leader from each of the two homes. As if scripted, each individual called a child, then two, then three by name with a harsh tone. The children were singled out as “strangers” in their own homes. Upon being called, they walked over to their elder, eyes turned downward and with humility; a sharp contrast from the dancing and playing of a few minutes earlier. The group leader pointed to the children and said: “This child has lost both parents to Ebola. This child was homeless because her family was evicted. That child was born with a deformity and left to live on the streets until he was rescued by our children’s home.” The stories were heartbreaking…and rehearsed. The children about whom the leaders were speaking listened as their adult caregiver told the story of why they were rejected. All stories ended with a request for funds.

It is a travesty that children are introduced to foreigners by someone else telling the story of their suffering. It is unconscionable that a child be forced to hear, again and again, their story of rejection any time a foreign visitor, NGO or potential donor visits. It is not a travesty to ask for money, it is not unconscionable to assume that a person from a resource wealthy nation may feel moved to donate and support an important cause, but it should be done in a way that does not risk stirring a child’s own trauma.


But sadly, this is nothing new.

In 1987, Sally Struthers made a commercial for the Christian Children’s Fund (later renamed Child Fund) that played Pachelbel’s Canon while flashing images of malnourished children looking miserable.

A few years ago, the comedian Jack Black, shared a video of himself weeping while he visiting children living in the slums of Uganda for the U.S.version of “Red Nose Day”. Unfortunately, the manipulation of suffering as a pitch for donations, we’ve all seen it before.

But what if it was your child singled out by some foreign film crew and recorded at his very worst? What if your most wretched moment was caught on tape (without your permission) and then used to raise millions of dollars?

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent rail against this kind of exploitation. It states clearly in its code of ethics that “In our information, publicity and advertising activities, we shall recognise disaster victims as dignified humans, not hopeless objects.”

But it still happens.

So what if we could change that narrative? What if we could tell the story of a child or family’s hardships without risking exacerbating their PTSD? What if we could raise funds, awareness and advocacy for people in need without framing them by only their suffering?

Performance in Sierra Leone

And now back to my second point as to why we end our shows with a dance party. We bring a child on stage with us as our shows end and we start a copy-cat routine. It begins with the child copying silly dance moves and then the bit moves towards them flexing their arms like an Olympic champion. (Think Michael Phelps, but shorter.) The child, depending on how comfortable they are in the moment, then stands on my shoulders to flex or they choose to stand on the bucket, elevated above the crowd. Some children roar like lions when they are standing there. During our last two shows, children lined up during the final dance party so that they could take their turns standing resolutely on the bucket.

We do not choose to highlight children because of their perceived deformities or weaknesses. We select children from the audience who seem engaged in the clown foolishness in front of them. When they join us on our makeshift stage, they always win and their strength shines through.

This we call resilience. It is resilience through playfulness; it is resilience through laughter.

This we celebrate.

In our short two-weeks here we have witnessed and heard of extreme hardships. The children we have met have gone through indescribable challenges; most of them continue to face these challenges head on, because they have to. In no way do I want to make their hardships seem unimportant and I do so strongly believe that children’s homes like the ones where we worked need support, yet the image I hope to leave you with is one of resilience despite all else: a child standing proudly on an overturned metal bucket, flexing her arms and the audience cheering for her, for who she is and what she will become.


Want to see the videos referenced?

Sally Struthers

Jack Black

CWB performance in Sierra Leone

Lasting Impact

Have you ever been surprised by the sound of your laughter? I have. I remember the first time I laughed after a close friend had died. I was in the car, listening to the radio, and I was caught completely off guard. I remember feeling surprise and relief. Under all that grief, I was still there.

Maybe you can relate to my experience. A small moment of laughter that shifted your perception, that nudges you towards healing. It happens all the time. You miss a deadline, forget an anniversary, lose a favorite earring, and find a way to laugh it off.

crowd of children watches a clown. resilience through laughterThis is our work. 

Our work happens in small moments, but with lasting impact. A young girl laughing at a magic trick. A little boy learning to hula hoop. Two mothers giggling and playing a clapping game.

These small moments build on one another. It may seem that the importance of laughter is harder to quantify than serving meals or blankets. However, laughter is a measure of healing because it represents the ability to access and draw strength from the part of us that is resilient in the face of trauma. The impact of our work is expansive. We record the number of people who attend our free shows and workshops. We gather anecdotes, we listen to stories. We learn from a mother, that it is the first time the girl has laughed since leaving Syria three weeks earlier. A nurse tells us about the boy hadn’t played in days before the clowns arrived. An aid worker shares how watching our artists play games with the children is the first time in months she has cried from joy instead of tears. We hope that the laughter builds and grows after we leave.

image of a clown mopping away a borderAs a reader, you can have a lasting impact, by becoming a member and making a recurring donation. By becoming a member, you directly support each project with a recurring, monthly donation. Think of it like your subscription to Netflix or Spotify, only instead of spending $10 a month for your own entertainment, you invest in someone else’s laughter. By becoming a member, you let us create more of these moments of levity, and help us work towards lasting impact.

We designed a new shirt for this year: a humble clown, mopping away a border. We hope you will take up this cause and join us, erasing borders and building equality.

Clowns Without Borders

The Pictures We Don’t Take

On August 28th, 2011, Hurricane Irene hit my hometown in Vermont. The photographers arrived before the National Guard. As we walked with our neighbors to explore the damage—houses, roads, orchards disappeared by the river—strangers turned the town into a tourist destination. As we collected scattered belongings and organized shelter, social media gaped at the unlikeliness of a hurricane in Vermont.

The improbable circumstances made us a news coverage novelty. Snide comments and insensitivities in the media made a terrible situation worse. People in cities that were spared by Hurricane Irene joked, “What hurricane?” while we waited for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to show up. At best, we received pity. The confusion of being portrayed as a joke and a victim still stings, years later.

Audience of children and adults laughing with the clowns on Lesvos. pictures
Crowd gathers to laugh with the clowns on the Island of Lesvos.

Why am I telling you about this experience? Because now, more than ever, it’s important to assess how we talk about and portray people in crisis. During every project, Clowns Without Borders could take pictures of tragedy. We could show you hunger, poverty, violence, or sickness. But instead, we show you laughter, community, and resilience. We want our pictures to demonstrate the connection between people, not the difference in our circumstances.

In October of 2015, our team was on the Greek island of Lesvos when four migrant boats capsized in one night. That evening, the clowns—in their plain clothes—went to the northern harbor of Molyvos to help. Every survivor had lost someone that night. Sabine spent her night in the church-turned-emergency room, translating for the patients and doctors who were having the most difficult time communicating. Luz and Molly distributed dry clothes to the survivors. Clay stayed with two girls who couldn’t find their parents. We helped in the best way we could, and at 12:45 AM, the team left to get some sleep before their morning performance.

We didn’t share pictures of that night. In fact, we didn’t take pictures that night. But we did take pictures at our shows the next day.

Young girl bounces with clowns on large life raft on rocky beach of Lesvos island. pictures.
Life raft transformed into a trampoline, Lesvos.

Our images from the morning after the wreck include a little boy, damp from the ocean, but laughing as Clay Mazing twirls a lasso around him. A young girl helped the clowns transform a life raft into a trampoline.

Each of these individuals has a harrowing story. Each has a hardship that lies ahead. However, the experiences we offer to you as our supporters are the shared moments of hopefulness. We want to share moments of laughter and joy so that you can feel connection and solidarity instead of pity.

Too often, we are only shown the destruction and never the process of healing. Too often, we see the differences between people instead of the delights we can share in common. Too often, we assume that the subjects of our photos will never view them.

Choose to share the stories with the dignity that you would wish for yourself. Just as I never expected to see the National Guard arrive in Williamsville, Vermont, many of our audience members never dreamed that they would be the ones on the news as survivors.