We are Speakers. We are Storytellers. We are Raconteurs

Staff Sgt. Kayla Wilkins, 39th Medical Operations Squadron orthopedic technician, speaks during an Incirlik Raconteurs meeting Jan. 17, 2013, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Wilkins told her story about how visiting Africa changed her life. The Incirlik Raconteurs is a speaking group that helps Airmen improve their public speaking abilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

Staff Sgt. Kayla Wilkins, 39th Medical Operations Squadron orthopedic technician, speaks during an Incirlik Raconteurs meeting Jan. 17, 2013, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Wilkins told her story about how visiting Africa changed her life. The Incirlik Raconteurs is a speaking group that helps Airmen improve their public speaking abilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

Staff Sgt. Tony Kies, 39th Communications Squadron NCO in charge of client services, speaks during an Incirlik Raconteurs meeting Jan. 17, 2013, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Kies was the master of ceremonies during the meeting. The Incirlik Raconteurs is a speaking group that helps Airmen improve their public speaking abilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

Staff Sgt. Tony Kies, 39th Communications Squadron NCO in charge of client services, speaks during an Incirlik Raconteurs meeting Jan. 17, 2013, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Kies was the master of ceremonies during the meeting. The Incirlik Raconteurs is a speaking group that helps Airmen improve their public speaking abilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

Senior Airman Jason Rimer, 39th Contracting Squadron contracting specialist, announces new speakers during an Incirlik Raconteurs meeting Jan. 17, 2013, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Rimer was one of several hosts of the event. The Incirlik Raconteurs is a speaking group that helps Airmen improve their public speaking abilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

Senior Airman Jason Rimer, 39th Contracting Squadron contracting specialist, announces new speakers during an Incirlik Raconteurs meeting Jan. 17, 2013, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Rimer was one of several hosts of the event. The Incirlik Raconteurs is a speaking group that helps Airmen improve their public speaking abilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- What in the world is a Raconteur?

The name Raconteur is a word used to describe storytellers in the 1800s who traveled from town to town making their living telling stories to large groups in town squares and churches. Airmen at Incirlik are continuing that tradition, but adding a fresh take by forming a group committed to developing communication skills.

The Incirlik Raconteurs' mission is to provide members of Incirlik the opportunity to improve participant's confidence in public speaking on-and-off duty. The group's motto, which is their driving force to become better communicators, is "We are Speakers. We are Storytellers. We are Raconteurs."

"It takes me out of my comfort zone. I've learned to step away from myself and try new things such as impromptu speeches," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Wright, Raconteurs vice president of membership and recruiting. "I feel like that's really helped me at work. I can talk to anyone from commanders to patients on the spot, no problem."

Members give several speeches throughout the program on topics such as recent events or sensitive subjects that some may find hard to discuss with others. The goal is to prepare them for any social setting they may encounter.

The idea for the Incirlik Raconteurs Club started with Tech. Sgt. Kitsana Dounglomchan. He wanted to provide a social, laid-back, comfortable setting for the community to come, share ideas and thoughts, and simply improve their speaking and communication skills.

Senior Airman Jason Rimer, 39th Contracting Squadron contract specialist, said the club teaches him how to have a presence on stage and has also helped in his daily interactions around base. "Raconteurs helped me develop the immeasurable confidence to shake a strangers hand or speak under a spotlight," Rimer said.

Wright agreed that the group doesn't just improve his skills at work, but in his off time as well. Through Raconteurs meetings and social events members build lasting friendships and develop networking skills they will use beyond their stay at Incirlik, making this group unique for some members.

"There's more of a connection with this group," Wright said. "With this one, you can tell that people have bonded and formed relationships that will continue outside of Incirlik."

The club is open to all Incirlik community members over the age of 18, due to the nature of some of the discussions. Meetings are held twice a month, but members gather for social events and fundraisers all month long. Their next event, a Saturday Night Live-inspired comedy show is scheduled for 8 p.m. Feb. 23, in the After Six Lounge.

For more information on The Incirlik Raconteurs, visit their Facebook page here.