Views 25 | Time to read: 4 minutes | Uploaded: 10 - 31 - 2017 | By: Shae Caragher
Students huddled around the donuts stacked on top of one another, piling as many as they could on their plate. The library was quiet and nine students and teachers mingled around a pot of coffee holding thick packets of paper, each containing a personal, yet silent part of their life. After taking advantage of free food, the small crowd began to listen as storytellers took to the stage in the Tell Me a Story: Unheard Stories event. Held on Monday October 23, the event consisted of nine students and faculty members who shared funny, touching, difficult, painful, redemptive, and miraculous stories from their lives. The event was described by the creator of the event, Lauren Kelley, as “an opportunity to share the parts of our lives that often go unheard such as gender, race, age, disability, etc.”
Race played a central role in many stories at Unheard Stories. Senior, Brittany Bland-Boyd, delved into an incredibly touching and personal story about a distressing and blatantly racist experience in a restaurant. Her story, titled Pink Hoodie, shook the room as she recounted being harassed by a blatantly racist manager. The manager yelled and insisted that she was the girl who dined and dashed solely because she was also black and wore a pink hoodie. Bland-Boyd reiterated throughout the story, “We don’t all look alike” Many people own pink hoodies. What was once safe haven and comfortable piece of clothing became the biggest reminder that to Bland-Boyde that she was not accepted.
Another storyteller, junior Larissa Cogan, silenced the room with her incredibly touching story for trail and grit. After difficult trials in high school such as loss, grades and further opportunities were the first to seemingly fade. She woke up each day to an abusive man by her side, but never let her husband or his words bring her away from God. With great courage and support from family and coworkers she was able to break free and eventually come to Westmont to work to support others and help them through the pain she suffered.
In contrast to the some of the more painful stories, Dr. Ronald See, Professor of Psychology, shared a story of God’s incredible work in the heart of one man in Saudi Arabia. While living in Saudi Arabia, Dr. See found himself the guest of honor at a classic Arabian wedding. Surrounded by thousands of Muslim men, he ended up meeting one man who felt compelled to tell See that he believes Jesus is our Savior. Through flights to Egypt to purchase a Bible and to Brooklyn to be baptized, the fire and passion for God instilled in this man gave Dr. See hope and encouragement as he continued his work in Saudi Arabia.
There were many other stories as well – identity crises at the DMV, recovery from eating disorders, working through grief and loss to find love again, the facts of twinning, being adopted into a family that looks different and learning to explain race and identity, and passed down stories of grandparents. This event brought together people of different backgrounds, struggles, and memories and gave a platform of expression for the story tellers and a new perspective for the listeners. Unheard Stories is the library’s third annual storytelling event and something staff indicated would continue in the future. Each year the library selects a broad theme such as this year’s theme of “learning.” Future attends acna look forward to this forum for students to connect on a level deeper than just “What’s your major?” and bridge a gap between students, faculty, race, gender, and experiences.