Today's guest is Jason Connors, who just returned to the United States on November 8 after serving 27 months in the Peace Corps in the South Pacific island of Tonga.
Jason is a native San Diegan, who for over 20 years has worked onstage and offstage at local theatres as an actor, playwright, director, composer, sound designer, and musician. He has received awards from San Diego Theatre Critics Circle, KPBS, and San Diego Playbill for his acting and original plays. In 2013, after graduating from UCSD, Jason took a break from theatre and quit his day job as a teacher's aid in a classroom which serves students with developmental disabilities, and joined the Peace Corps with his companion, Emily Merchant. In the Kingdom of Tonga, they worked at a primary school teaching English and collaborating with local counterparts to increase "student-centered" teaching practices.
During his time in the Peace Corps, he and Emily helped develop new, easy-to-read English literacy books that were about Tongan life, illustrated by local artists. Jason also started a reading program in the nation's capital at one of the country's only public libraries which saw attendance and library visits quadruple since the program began. Jason's experience in the Peace Corps was an extension of a core belief in the goodness and generosity of all people and his desire to build community: a community of theatre-goers, a community of readers, a community of peaceful and thoughtful humanity.