Beginnings, nostalgia, romance, travel: these are some of the content themes for the meetings of Storytelling Club, a place for students to share their stories, art and thoughts in a judgement-free zone.
The club had their first-ever meeting last Monday night. Artists of all mediums were in attendance, from graphic novelists to poets to videographers.
David Muir, an assistant professor of marketing, is co-adviser along with Susan Donley, an academic adviser for the English department.
“I’m very excited to be a part of this club,” Muir said. “My mode of storytelling is poetry and I’m very passionate about storytelling in a safe space.” To kick off the meeting, he shared a poem about his childhood entitled “Nostalgia.”
Though it was only the first gathering, members already began to share their first round of stories. Following Muir’s lead, members talked about favorite memories and nostalgia. Subjects varied from favorite Disney movies of youth and growing up in the ’90s, to a moment of reflection while stuck in traffic, to getting lost on the first day of freshman year.
The audience was attentive and established natural conversation. People took inspiration from each other’s stories to come up with ones of their own to share, so everything fit together like an oral anthology.
“The biggest thing I want members to get out of the club is confidence,” said club founder and co-president Julia Brody, senior mass communications major.
“I think there are people that have really powerful stories to tell that just don’t have the audience or the environment to tell them,” she said.
There are only a handful of similar clubs at other universities in the states, but Brody found her inspiration abroad.
“I studied at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and there, storytelling was huge,” she said. “I took a class and we spent a couple weeks talking about the importance of storytelling.”
Co-president Izzy Perlman, a senior English major, hopes the club will be a place where students can “share their stories in a non-judgmental or competitive environment.”
Storytelling Club was intentionally designed to have minimal structure to allow the shape and organization to develop organically. The goal was to establish a forum enabling students to listen, share and create. Through sharing student work, the club is also a place to practice public speaking skills.
“The only way you can get better is to practice in front of people,” Brody said.
However, participation is not limited to oral storytelling, she said. Students are welcome to share through any medium, from written work to photography to music. Club founders encourage students from all backgrounds to come share.
“There is a huge community of people from around the world at our school,” Brody said. “So much of what is going on in the world is [caused by] a lack of understanding. The more you understand someone and the more you know their story, the more empathy is created.”