Katelynn Singleton, news editor

Humans, by nature, are storytellers. Cave drawings depict animals, humans and other objects and were likely associated with oral stories. Homer’s “The Iliad” and Native American folk tales were originally told orally, before being written down at a later date. Musicians use their music to story tell, and filmmakers and photographers use their cameras. They help us bond and empathize with one another. Sitting and listening to stories is one of the most natural instincts we have as humans, and we can learn so much just by paying attention to them. 

Emory University hosts an event called story circles to help create a community between students, faculty and alumni. At these events, participants are brought together to answer a prompt that is not provided beforehand, in response to a lecture that is told beforehand. Participants have two to three minutes to respond to the prompt with a personal story.

Others aren’t allowed to respond or comment during the story but are instead asked to really listen to one another without judgment or criticism. This prompts the participants to recognize the ways that they are similar to one another and builds community among those who participated. It opens participants up to different world views and new understandings of how the world works. 

Implementing story circles to Berry events, like Solidarity Week or Intercultural Center events, would allow for Berry to continually strengthen the “Berry Bubble,” and increase understanding among students, faculty and staff. Even on a smaller scale, story circles can help friends and classmates better understand where they stand on certain topics. Listening instead of responding can be difficult at times, but it’s so crucial in an increasingly polarized world. 

Through stories, we are able to make sense of the world, especially one that is continually more confusing and complicated. The Spires is a vastly underused resource that Berry students have access to. The residents of the Spires have lived long and eventful lives, which can help students better understand either certain past events or have a greater appreciation for the world we’re in now. Talking to members of the Spires, or even one’s grandparents are great ways to relate and contextualize current events to past ones. 

Alumni are another resource that students can reach out to in order to strengthen the Berry community. Students can reach out to alumni to see how Berry has changed since they attended or how they used Berry resources to get to where they are now. 

In addition to increasing understanding, listening to and embracing others stories allows for us to create a social bond through a common theme. Think of the fan groups surrounding different TV shows, movies, franchises and books. Despite not having a lot in common, they are able to relate to one another through their shared love of a series. Social media, a place where there is nothing but stories, is a place where people are able to unite over shared experiences or interests. These help people feel more united and like they have a place in the world. People who feel alone are able to find others who feel like them and create bonds that last for years. 

Stories can be used for more than just building community. Here at Berry, professors may use their personal stories to help students better understand the lectures. Relating information to a personal story allows for one to remember facts and information quicker than just the straight facts. That’s part of the reason mnemonic devices, like please excuse my dear Aunt Sally (PEMDAS), work so well. The information that we need to remember is being related to something easily remembered. An English professor might talk about how they had to write five different poems for a class when they were in school, which could in turn help a student remember the different types of poetry. 

With a war in Ukraine and U.S. primaries beginning in May, it seems that more and more people are forgetting empathy and turning towards hatred and polarization. Recognizing the value in listening to one another is crucial to building a common understanding and growing our empathy for others. Stories aren’t going away anytime soon. Humans have been telling stories as far back as historians can see and will continue for the rest of our lives. 

Posted by Campus Carrier

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