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The Value of a Person’s Story

Posted By Joanne Powser, she/her/hers, Wilkes University, Friday, February 22, 2019
The Value of a Person’s Story
Joanne Powser, she/her/hers, Wilkes University

Writing this blog was the most difficult thing that I’ve done in a really long time. My first draft was structured like an academic paper and felt like an academic article instead of a blog. After reading it and getting some feedback, I realized the last time I had written something for anyone to read, other than an email, was in grad school which was almost over a year ago. For me, I thrive off structure, and a blog has absolutely none. When I agreed to write this blog, I knew I would struggle but I thought I would at least have a few good ideas to write about because diversity is something I think about every single day. However, I was extremely wrong.

Luckily, I watched a movie titled Disobedience that sparked my interest for this blog’s topic. The movie’s overarching story is about a woman whose father passes away and her father happened to be the rabbi of the synagogue within the community. She returns home after being away for some time and struggles between staying for closure with her father’s death or leaving to get away from the hateful community. And I say hateful because people won’t even acknowledge the fact that she is the rabbi’s daughter because of her attraction for her childhood friend and because she left town. When they were younger, the main character and her childhood female best friend were attracted to one another and her father, the rabbi, walked in on them kissing. In the Orthodox Jewish community, this act is a sin. 

My reason in sharing the short summary of this movie is because watching it, I thought about all the people who have to hide who they truly are to fit in with their family. They either do this to ensure they don’t lose them, or they bravely show who they truly are and risk losing everything, including their loved ones. This movie allows you to see both sides of the choice that many people have to make.

In writing this, please know that I am no expert in any of these identities or experiences, but I recognize the privilege I have in being a heterosexual Christian and I will never understand anyone’s experience or hardship. For me, there is such inherent importance in taking the time to get to know a person’s story, if they’re willing to share with you. Movies allow you to gain that sense of exploration and allow insight into things we would never think about in our day-to-day lives. 

In Student Affairs, you have no idea what a student is going through, but as long as you let them know that you are there for them and you will accept them regardless of what they share, you will potentially have the chance to impact them in a very positive and supportive way. With our work, it can often be difficult to stop what we are doing to randomly chat with a student, but taking that 10 to 15 minutes could make such a difference in that student’s day, or even their life. Hearing others’ stories can also be an opportunity for you to grow and learn something new. The best knowledge comes from listening to other’s experiences.

The advice I will leave you with is: Take time out of your day to hear someone’s story and work to support them. This was too strong of a reminder to me to be left unsaid. 

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Brian Medina says...
Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Joanne,

Thank you for sharing your blog post! While I know that it was difficult for you, know that I appreciated reading it and resonated with it greatly. You are absolutely correct - we do not know everyone's story, but that's all the more reason to share with colleagues and friends in order to better support one another.

You will see my own blog entry for the month of March and I welcome your feedback or insight. Maybe you can try another blog again soon, this time with more experience and therefore (hopefully) less fear about how it may sound, academic or otherwise.

-Brian Medina
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