by the YAVA Recruitment Team


I.       Getting Started

II.      Planning Your Interpretation/Storytelling

III.     Follow-up + Extras

IV.     Support resources


I.      Getting Started

A.   Some common recruitment venues and events

1)   Attending a career fair:

If there is a career/service/post graduate fair taking place at a college or university, and you are willing to represent YAV, please contact Essie! She can pay for registration costs and be in contact with the career services office and/or campus minister at that school. It’s possible that you can make an appointment with the chaplain or campus minister as well, to give them further information on the YAV program.

2)   Visiting a campus ministry (including community college)

You may be visiting your alma mater, or a local college or university group with whom you’ve been in contact. This is an ideal venue for fielding great questions about the program and sparking interest. If you are making such a visit, please let Essie know–she can provide you with materials to make you extra popular during your visit (bumper stickers, pens, pins, to name a few). Also, it is very helpful to the YAV office if you provide them with contact information of the campus minister or chaplain. This gives the office the opportunity to follow up your visit with reminders about deadlines and scholarships. It also gives them information for the recruitment database, for future recruitment visits to that school.

3)   Speaking with a congregation

Speaking during a “minute for mission,” sermon, or more informally with your home congregation and other supporting congregations is another important way to do interpretation. Once again, contact the YAV office to get information and promotional materials to distribute during or after your conversation with the congregation. 25% of the Pentecost Offering, which is collected every year on Pentecost Sunday (usually in late May or early June), goes to the YAV program. This 25% comprises over 50% of the YAV budget. If you can get an opportunity to speak with a congregation on Pentecost Sunday, this is idea. More information about the Pentecost Offering is at, or simply by going to and searching for ‘Pentecost Offering.’

4) If you feel overwhelmed or confused

As you are getting started, feel free to contact any of these YAV alumni to ask questions about contacting places to present, forming your interpretation story, and anything else! You can also contact Essie at the YAV office.

– Brenton Thompson (Northern Ireland ‘03-’04, Ukraine ‘04-’05)

– Gabby Kubo Dannemiller (Guatemala ‘03-’04)

– Scott Dannemiller (Guatemala ‘03 – ‘04)

– Sarah Edgecombe (Philippines, ‘03-’04)

– Laura Fry (Northern Ireland ‘02-’03, Tuscon ‘03-’04)

-Emily Miller (Miami ’05-’06)
B.   “Prioritized” schools:

These are colleges and universities where the campus minister or chaplain is an excited supporter of the YAV program, and these schools welcome former YAVs to come and speak with their groups. The list includes all Presbyterian-related colleges and universities, as well as additional colleges and universities where the campus minister or chaplain is a supporter of the YAV program. These schools welcome former YAVs to come and speak with their groups. If you live near one of these schools, attended one of these schools, know the campus minister/chaplain, or if all of the above apply, a visit from you to the campus ministry would go a long way in spreading the word about the program. Let someone in the YAV office know if you plan to or are willing to visit one of these schools. We can pay for your mileage/travel for up to 100 miles, and we will provide you with promotional information and give-aways.
PC(USA) Colleges and Universities are listed at
Other non-PC(USA) schools which are “YAV friendly” include:
Appalachian State University, Duke University, Florida State University, Furman University, Iowa State, North Carolina State University, The Ohio State University, University of North Carolina, University of Arizona, University of Georgia, University of Texas, Wake Forest University, Penn State University


II.   Planning Your Interpretation/Storytelling

Planning your time can seem daunting so we’ve included some examples of what other YAVA have done in the past.  Steal whatever you’d like and ignore anything that doesn’t seem to fit your style.  The most important thing to remember is that God is with us in all we do and if we keep God in mind, how can it go wrong?

Multimedia Presentation

– We were invited to a number of churches around the country

Scott & Gabby Dannemiller
45mins – 1 hour
Slideshow, music and storytelling
Equipment needed:  sound equipment – 2 mikes, projector, screen, laptop, remote for laptop, 2 stools, music stands (if available)
This program was driven mostly by the songs and the message we were hoping to convey was one of service.  An important element to us was to say that not everyone is able to commit a year or more to a volunteer program, but that service opportunities are around us every day and it’s just a matter of stepping outside of your comfort zone and doing it.  Our basic outline was to tell where we came from, what we experienced in Guatemala as YAVs and then tell people what we were up to at that time and how the YAV experience had changed our lives.

I think it’s important to point out that for the most part, only Scott sang.  This was a stumbling block at first because we didn’t know how to fit Gabby into the program but after a while it just happened.  So we both sat together on stools on stage and we told stories, Scott sang and we had a slide projector with a remote to move pictures along that were not automatically timed with the music.  I only include this because I don’t want YAVA to feel that their storytelling isn’t enough because it’s what it’s ALL about.

Another Experience (Group)

Rev. Laura Fry
20 Min
Towards the end of my year in Tucson, the other three Tucson YAVs and I worked together to create a single interpretation piece.  Corey Nelson assisted each of us in identifying one or two experiences to share.  It was very helpful to have an outside resource like Corey but I think the crucial part is having a test audience: one or two people willing to listen to your drafts and provide suggestions.  The other essential elements in this kind of presentation are compelling stories connected by a clear theme.  Choose stories that offer insight into your work, into the issues facing the community you served, or into your own sense of calling.  With your individual stories identified, then looked for points of connection within the group, and choose a passage of scripture to ground your presentation.  With an eye toward the flow of the piece as a whole, intersperse your stories with scripture and if you would like, a piece of music.  We presented our finished piece during worship as the sermon to several congregations and at the presbytery meeting.

Another Experience (Group)

Brenton Thompson

30-45 min

Upon returning I participated in YAVIT (Young Adult Volunteer Interpretation Team), which no longer exists, and I was teamed up with two other YAVs to travel and give presentations for one month.  Bruce Whearty, who helped us get our presentation together, gave us several tips.  One was going back to our journals and mission update letters to help reconnect to the people, places and things that shaped my experience.  The second thing was short and effective stories, by cutting out extra details and keeping a central focus throughout the story it helped me get my 5-minute story down to powerful 2-3 minute vignettes.  Then sitting down with the other two YAVs we found a scripture that we felt connected with all of our stories, which served as the central theme of our presentation.  Our presentation looked like this; read complete passage, read again but stopping throughout the passage to share the vignettes where they fit supporting our message, re-read the passage, slide show of photos while being accompanied by music and ending with question and answers.  We gave presentations to Sunday school groups, after-church potlucks, evening dinners and presbytery gatherings.

Presentations as the program for Campus Ministry groups and Church Suppers

Sarah Edgecombe
30-45 min
I also had the fortunate experience of working with Corey to prepare 2 stories interpreting my YAV experience. I spoke of how I witnessed in the Philippines what I learned about the Church as I grew up. I talked about my Filipino church in action and what I learned from them. I also spoke about how embarrassed I was when I learned how much Filipinos know about the US in comparison to how little I knew about the country and its people. I showed pictures (powerpoint slide show) of where I lived, worshiped, and traveled. I also spoke about the YAV year structure–possible sites, discernment, orientation, and supervision–and its national support. I invited questions at the end, and I stuck around afterwards for individual questions.

Leading Sunday School for Youth, College, and/or Adults

Sarah Edgecombe
45-1 hour
My home church and others asked for me to use the Sunday School hour to talk about my YAV year. I used the lectionary scripture or something else (mostly Romans 8:18-30) to begin the conversation, and then I showed pictures (usually passing them around) and talked about how I saw God’s word and work in the Philippines. I asked the group for their reflections from their own local/national/international mission experiences and the scripture, and sometimes had good conversations. I also shared the YAV year structure–especially if the group was youth and college students.

Preaching as a Team or Individual

Sarah Edgecombe
10-15 min
As few churches asked me to preach about my YAV year. I most appreciated when I teamed up with the pastor, as we could talk together about scripture and how to use my YAV experience with it. We would go back and forth, like a conversation, in the sermon. When preaching alone, I would use scripture that meant a lot to me during my YAV year and use it to share my experiences and challenges of living life differently once I returned. It was hard, but people so want to hear all about your YAV year!
Another Experience (Individual)

Brenton Thompson

10-25 min

The several times I was asked to preach about my mission experience I drew upon the presentation I had prepared while part of YAVIT (See the “Multimedia Presentation” section)  I’d choose a passage that was meaningful from my experience and found ways to incorporate several stories that helped illustrate the point of the passage and the sermon.  If I was able to talk beforehand to the minister I liked to have some involvement in the shaping of the prayers for the service that reflected the theme of the sermon and/or incorporating the places where I had served.

Mission Fair Entertainment  – we were invited to do this at some churches and are doing on for our church’s Faith in Action Day, Sept 29, 2010.
Scott & Gabby Dannemiller

45mins – 1 hour
Slideshow, music and storytelling
Equipment needed:  sound equipment – 2 mikes, projector, screen, laptop, remote for laptop, 2 stools, music stands (if available)
We focus on the mission of the church (many of whom had partnerships in our YAV country of Guatemala).  For the upcoming program, we will be talking about how mission is important in your family, community and internationally.  We will weave in stories and some songs from our YAV year as well as other volunteer experiences we have had since that time.

Seminary Discernment Event – we were invited by the recruitment office
Scott & Gabby Dannemiller

1 hour
Slideshow, music, storytelling and Q&A
Equipment needed:  sound equipment – 2 mikes, projector, screen, laptop, remote for laptop, 2 stools, music stands (if available)
At this event, we talked about our decision to change our lives for a year to become YAVs.  Scott sang his song, “What Would You Do?” and we answered questions for possible seminary students.  There were probably 15 people in attendance.

Coffeehouse Format – we were invited by the church

Scott & Gabby Dannemiller

30 min
Slideshow, music and storytelling
Equipment needed:  sound equipment – 2 mikes, projector, screen, laptop, remote for laptop, 2 stools, music stands (if available)
This sounded like a great idea but the reality wasn’t as great.  Because we were billed as entertainment during the meal, many people were talking and it was hard to tell if anyone was listening.  People were up and walking around getting dessert and it was very distracting.  I do not recommend this as a format if you can avoid it.
Minute for Mission – Pentecost Offering – I requested the time to speak

Scott & Gabby Dannemiller

1 min
Equipment needed:  1 YAVA and a place to preach it about the YAV program!
Spoke for about 2 minutes about how Scott and I chose to become YAVs – that it was truly – for us – being called by God for something bigger than ourselves.  I talked about how that year determines things from where we live and the house we live in to how we are raising our children, what Christmas gifts we buy (or more importantly don’t buy) and how we spend our money.

At the Presbytery Level

Rev. Laura Fry
10-15 min with a Team
Several years out of the YAV program, I am now serving as a pastor in a presbytery with five other YAVA.  It’s exciting that six young pastors in a single presbytery are former YAVs and I wanted us to speak about the impact of the YAV program on our lives and on our calling to ordained ministry.  I proposed this to our Mission and Advocacy Committee and they requested docket time for us.  We were given 12 minutes total in which to tell our stories.  I invited each YAVA to speak for 2 minutes, sharing about a different aspect of the program.  We selected these topics in advance and I gave a general introduction to the YAV program.  Then the other YAVA each spoke on one of the following topics: the YAV program’s impact on their faith journey, on their understanding of the global church, on their commitment to the PCUSA, on their calling to ordained ministry, and closed with resources for pastors and elders to use to promote it in their congregations.  Our goal was to educate pastors and elders about the YAV program with the hope that they might encourage young adults in their congregations to apply.  We received a very positive response for our presentation.  The one challenge was timing—it is hard to speak for only 2 minutes.  I found it helpful to practice in advance with a stopwatch, which helped me to know exactly how concise I needed to be.

Another Experience (Individual)

Sarah Edgecombe
5 -10 min
I was invited to speak to one supporting Presbytery. I shared one brief story of my time there, gave an overview of what else I did that year, and then I thanked members of the Presbytery for their support during my YAV year.

Other means of communicating our Mission Year:
Website: — With the invention of Facebook and Blogs, I think this is probably a no-brainer for all YAVs that have access to the internet regularly.
Emails to family and friends – we also sent emails sporadically to friends and family back home and told them to check out our website


III.    Follow-up + Extras
A.   Post Presentation – “What to do afterwards”

1)   Return the display boards (shipping already pre-paid)

2)   Contact the YAV Office and let us know how things went

3)   Evaluation

Upon completing a presentation we’d love to send you a online survey asking about how it went.  Below are some of the types of things we’ll ask.

–   When and where?

–   Describe the presentation

–   Brief summary of the style and content of your presentation

–   How many people were present?

–   How do you think it went?

–   What would you change and/or do differently (If anything)?

–   What things would you like us to know about the place?

–   Is there a better contact person for Essie? Send her the info.

–   Any other feedback?
B.     Pitfalls of YAVA Interpretation Trips

Here are some things that didn’t go great or that we wished had gone differently. Inevitably we will all have some of these disappointments along our “presentation” journey.  We share these not to discourage anyone but just to let you know that something like this may happen and that it’s OKAY.  As we all know, God works in us even when it feels like God’s hung us out to dry.
1)   Talkers
We were scheduled at one church to do a “coffeehouse” format.  This sounded really cool to us, people would eat and sit at tables and listen to our stories and songs.  Unfortunately, people took this to mean they could talk and walk around and generally use us as background music.  As you plan your presentations, consider this and maybe speak to the scheduler beforehand.

2)   Not Well Attended
We traveled to many parts of the country and had churches pay for our travel and we would generally stay with church members.  While this was exhausting, it saved the churches a lot of money and gave us an opportunity to know people better.  We did have situations where we’d come all that way to only have 15 – 20 people attend.  This was due to different reasons – maybe the church was small or the promotions weren’t very good.  I would encourage all YAVA to be involved with your promotions so that you have a good turnout or ask someone you really trust to help with this.

3)   Lack of Support from a Home Church
We all hope that our home church will be enthusiastic about our YAV year and want to make the most of the opportunity to promote mission and service.  Sometimes this happens and it’s a great experience but sometimes it is a disappointment.  We had one presentation at another YAV’s home church (this YAV presented with us) and the attendance was really low.  It was very discouraging to the YAV and the YAV felt unsupported.  Be aware that sometimes home churches really don’t understand the significance of your interpretation and you may want to talk to your senior pastor or other church official so they can help to ensure you feel loved and supported.

4)   Leaving early
We were very informal in our presentations.  We knew that some people had small children that might lose interest or infants that needed feeding etc. and we encouraged people to leave if necessary.  It can be difficult to watch people walking out during your story.  I think it’s important to remember that more times than not, the early departure has more to do with the person than it does with you.

5)   Non-talkers
When leading Sunday School classes, sometimes the group listened well but didn’t engage in conversation like I’d hoped. It happens. I learned to be prepared with plenty of back-up stories, especially from other YAVs/Filipino church workers and members, so that I wasn’t only sharing my own perspective. I also learned that silence is ok; folks need time to look at pictures and soak it in.


IV.    Support resources
A.     YAV Storytelling & Interpretation by Ellen Sherby
1)   Storytelling Tips

–   Tell a story you love – but that will be relevant and understandable to others

–   Think about your purpose – what do you want people to come away with?  This will shape your content

–   Give focus to the people with whom you served, illustrate what it meant to you without making yourself the “hero”

–   Paint the picture.  Give necessary descriptors to places or people without overloading

–   Find and use your own style

–   Consider “placement” of story within a presentation – how to weave together with other parts of the presentation and media (video, photos, music, activities)

–   Relax
–   Practice
–   Give room for the listener to ask questions.

2)   For storytelling “soundbytes”
–   Use the example of one person who touched your life, or one brief incident

–   Illustrate a unique quality of the YAV program – think “why YAV?” over another program, without bashing alternatives.

–   Keep up-to-date on YAV recruitment timelines and places to serve

3)   Links:
–   Story Tips You Can Use from The Storytelling Center, Inc., New York

–   Alton Takiyama-Chung  telling a story about Pearl Harbor