Campus Community Members Encouraged to Share Their Stories Through the Transformative Narratives Initiative
“No doubt about it, the best speakers are good storytellers. The best writers are good storytellers. The best leaders are good storytellers. The best teachers, trainers, and coaches are good storytellers. It might even be argued that the best parents are good storytellers,” wrote Rodger Dean Duncan in January 2014 in Forbes.
Earlier this month, Staff Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement (SDIE) hosted the inaugural Transformative Narratives Storytelling Crawl, an immersive, six-event series featuring 51 stories, four poems, and two monologues from 26 national, local, and Georgia Tech storytellers and six musicians over two days.
“Transformative Narratives was launched as a major storytelling initiative at Georgia Tech because we want to be among the best at modeling and achieving inclusive excellence,” said Cheryl D. Cofield, director of inclusion and engagement and curator of the initiative. “The reciprocal relationship between storytellers and story listeners sparks connection among people and the opportunity for ‘being with’ and understanding others.”
The storytelling crawl elicited strong reactions from attendees. “It was cathartic to hear the stories of pain, hope, and triumph from my colleagues and invited guests. While we may be in a different time, stage, or season in life, we can all persevere and help one another grow by taking the time to listen and truly care about what others have experienced,” remarked Laura Pusateri, assistant director of Institute special events and protocol for Institute Communications.
Aisha Oliver-Staley, executive director for Affiliated Organizations, found it an enriching experience. “I left inspired by stories of lived experiences that connect all of us beyond our identifiable differences.”
Through the Transformative Narratives initiative, SDIE has curated 24 artistically embellished photographic portraits as a traveling exhibit, currently hosted by the Ernest Scheller Jr. College of Business, and 17 audio recordings that capture the rich diversity of the campus community. The curated sets of photographic portraits and audio recordings are maintained in the growing digital story library.
Now, SDIE is seeking stories from faculty, staff, and students as part of Transformative Narratives, which is endorsed by the Strategic Plan Advisory Group. Submitted stories may be selected to become part of the Institute’s digital story library and showcased in a future exhibit. To participate, campus community members can submit 55-word story summaries at www.sdie.gatech.edu/share-your-story.
“The initiative aligns well with growing the capacity of our faculty, staff, and students to increase their intercultural competence and interpersonal savvy through the sharing of their identities, experiences, and perspectives,” Cofield noted.
Pearl Alexander, executive director for diversity, inclusion, and engagement and co-producer of Transformative Narratives, credits Cofield’s leadership as well as input from the steering committee with the initiative’s success to date. “We are creating the spaces and means for our campus community to excavate and express their personal stories,” she said. “I’m extremely proud of Cheryl’s vision, the work of the committee, and the sponsorship that we’ve been afforded to make this initiative happen.”
Visit www.sdie.gatech.edu/transformative-narratives to learn more, share your story, or register to attend an upcoming storytelling workshop.