The Marist Community Comes Together to Share Their Stories

ARCO's Annual "Share Your Story" Event Unites the Campus Community

Every year, ARCO (Appreciating Races and Creating Opportunities) puts on a “Share Your Story” event for the Marist community. Darriel McBride, the president of ARCO, commenced this year's event by reciting a simple platform. “Today we celebrate identity,” she said to the assembly of faculty, administration, and students from all different sectors of the student body. She hoped that those attending the event would fulfill their “desire to come together as humans.”

Under this idea of coming together, “Share Your Story” united a variety of Marist’s cultural and political clubs. Hosted by ARCO, they also collaborated with students from the Social Work Club, Black Student Union, Lesbian Gay Straight Alliance, Hillel, and the general Marist population, for this gathering of different minds and backgrounds.

Attendees came together to listen to the stories of their fellow classmates and professors. A panel of speakers sat along a table behind McBride’s podium, waiting to tell the stories they had prepared about personal identity. For the audience members, a simple dinner of salad and snacks was served as they filed in and found their seats.

“It takes a lot to try to cultivate these conversations,” said McBride as she introduced the guest speaker who would bear this responsibility. Doctor Khuram Hussain had traveled to Marist for the evening from Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva, New York. There, Hussein works as an associate professor in the Department of Education and as a leader of their “Tools for Change” group.

Doctor Hussain joined the Marist community that evening to guide the storytellers and cultivate a productive conversation about identity. He began by creating a set of guidelines for the event and projected this list over the heads of the storytellers. The list contained words like “respect, confidentiality, open mind, patience,” to be granted to each speaker. And as the night went on, this promise was kept.

“It takes courage to do what they’re about to do,” Hussain prefaced before introducing the first storyteller. “With each of these stories we ask you to hear them compassionately but also to reflect on yourself.”

The speakers were a group of seven members of the Marist community with incredible stories to tell. They had all overcome obstacles of their own kind, which helped to create their individual identities which they spoke about today. They spoke openly and passionately of these identities constructed by sexuality, ethnicity, hardship and childhood background.

Artistic expression seemed to be a common theme of the night. In particular, a lot of speakers felt that music was an important part of their identity that had gotten them through times of trouble. The first speaker, an international student from Nigeria, sang an excerpt from a Whitney Houston song, explaining that music was so important to him. Another girl talked about a particular album that had really touched her. “The music helped me to move forward,” she said. Even a Marist professor explained that, as a ballerina, she had always been able to fall back on classical music.

Others shared their artistic work with the room. One speaker, a Marist graduate from 2015 had written poetry about love, which he incorporated into his story. Darriel McBride, the ARCO president, also shared a work of poetry after all of the speakers had presented. Her poem was entitled “Thinking Out Loud,” and expressed her own thoughts about identity and the state of the world.

In addition to their own stories, the speakers turned the conversation towards the group of attentive listeners to offer empowering words.

“Never stop dreaming. Search inside of you. Something is going to keep you going,” the international student encouraged.

The Marist professor offered to teach self-defense to anyone that was interested. “Celebrate who you are and learn self-defense,” she said.

Another student encouraged others to be accepting of one another and work together. “If we want change, we have to work with everybody,” he said.

“Not everyone you encounter is supposed to stay in your life,” the Marist graduate concluded at the end of his story, “but teach you a lesson that you will always remember.”

After the speakers had presented, every participant split off into groups to discuss their own identity and reflect on the events of the night. “You don’t have to carry the weight of whatever you’re feeling alone,” Hussain said, addressing the crowd.

Doctor Hussain encouraged the groups to reflect and share, as the storytellers just had. He concluded that everyone is always going to remain diverse and different, and all anyone can do is figure out how to handle that.

Written by Sarah Gabrielli '18

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