When it comes to understanding different sides of current events, conversation alone can be inadequate. An interactive story-building process, however, can reap richer and longer lasting results.
Eve Everette, '09, assistant director of the Anne Frank Project (AFP), has partnered with the Counseling Center and the Equity and Campus Diversity Office to present “Story Night: Exploring Events Through Story-building,”
Tuesday, March 14 (Note: Canceled due to inclement weather). It will be repeated again on May 9 at 5:30 p.m. in the Donald Savage Communication Building’s Flexible Theatre.
Approximately two hours long, “Story Night” is free and open to the public.
“This is an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and members of the community to dive into big issues together,” said Everette. She and Drew Kahn, theater professor and AFP director, and students in his Devised Theater course use the story-building model with local high school and middle school students during the academic year. Through the stories, they help students process difficult issues like bullying and suicide.
“Story Night” participants will divide into groups and decide which issues they want to explore—from police shootings to immigration to Internet dating—and then create mini-stories around the issues.
“We want it to be a forum for people to examine issues they really care about,” Everette said. “People are on their feet, putting stories into their bodies. At the end, they present the stories to one another.”
Over the summer, Everette met with Senior Counselor Jack Mack and Diversity Program Coordinator Jason Parker to figure out ways to collaborate beyond AFP.
“We were talking about the difficulty responding to the many social and political issues in our campus-, national-, and world-communities,” said Mack, a psychologist and training coordinator at the Counseling Center. “All of our offices share a piece of trying to help students process their experiences, but when Eve mentioned doing these types of activities with refugees and teenagers in the community we asked, ‘Why aren’t we doing this right here at Buffalo State?’”
At the first “Story Night” in November, President Katherine Conway-Turner and members of her Cabinet participated.
“The unique thing is that students got to tackle big issues right alongside campus vice presidents and other administrators they would otherwise not have access to,” Everette said. “You never know what can come from those relationships.”
Parker said “Story Night” was the first such experience for him.
“I’m an introvert and it took me out of my element getting up and making these stories,” Parker said. “It was actually fun to interact with people and learn different points of view.”
It was such a success, the organizers decided to continue “Story Night” as a regular event for the fall and spring.
“We want to provide a different way of presenting important information and sparking a dialogue,” Parker said. “We want to get students engaged and involved in the conversation as opposed to just sitting in a lecture taking it all in.”
The experience also provides a tool to continue these important conversations after “Story Night” ends, Mack noted.
“Hopefully, it stretches people’s minds and hearts a little so they can keep processing these issues and connecting with other people in their lives,” he said.
Registration online prior to the event is encouraged. However, drop-ins are welcome. For more information, call (716) 878-5559.