Gente y Cuentos
People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos actually began in Spanish as Gente y Cuentos in 1972. From 1972-1986, the format of the program was strictly a Spanish literature, reading and discussion program.
With a deep appreciation for emerging Latin American authors, founder, Sarah Hirschman returned from a five year stay in Colombia with a desire to introduce new audiences to the innovative literary style of writers, such as Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges. In 1972, Hirschman approached a group of Latina women living in the projects of Cambridge, Massachusetts and asked them if they would be interested in experiencing something of their “cultura”: the first Gente y Cuentos session began.
Hirschman writes in her book, People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos: Who owns Literature? Communities Find Their Voice Through Short Stories, “Gente y Cuentos held in Spanish started informally as a weekly affair. People came not only to hear and discuss stories but also to find companionship with others who spoke Spanish.” This grassroots project, well-received by the local community, evolved to include components that are still in place today in both People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos groups: the oral reading of the short story, the lively dialogue about the story, certificates of participation, a distribution of a brand new book and often the sharing of food.
Today, Gente y Cuentos continues in several states and in several Latin American countries. In New Jersey and New York, Gente y Cuentos programs are offered to Adult Basic Education classes for Spanish-speaking adults, Spanish-speaking parents, and in other Latino/a community centers.
A Gente y Cuentos participant will experience authors from diverse Spanish speaking countries and backgrounds, as well as discover the benefits of reading and discussing literature with others who share a linguistic and cultural heritage.