Students, alumni, faculty and staff unraveled their life stories to the Value the Voice audience Tuesday night at the Helmut Stern Auditorium at the University of Michigan Museum of Art.
A joint effort between the Comprehensive Studies Program, the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, and the UMMA brought a crowd of 80 to listen to stories relating to identity. This is third Moth-style storyteller lounge event of Value the Voice series.
The event, called “Value the Voice: Unravel,” consisted of stories on the call to political activism, navigating being a first year student, #BBUM’s five-year anniversary, Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision through community service, identity as a mixed person on campus, mental health issues through the You Good Fam student organization and gender identity.
The storytelling event showcases a range of human experiences of marginalized peoples and their life stories.
LSA freshman Monique Wheeler discussed the challenges of adapting to the campus environment as someone from an environment she described as “sheltered” because there were more Black people. She described how her initial encounter was different from what she had anticipated for college and found herself “isolated.” In the Black community, Wheeler was criticized for “sounding white” in high school. When she came to the University, she said she found the culture shock to be greater than she expected. Wheeler said no one would talk to her and her roommate.
“Anytime anyone looked at me, I was that Black girl,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler shared a poem she had written for her creative writing class. In it, she expressed her fear of being attacked at any time and said nobody would listen to her.
“When my eyes meet yours, I feel the fear entangling itself … for I feel forever alienated in this place where I’m supposed to find myself,” Wheeler said. “ … The truth is, I have no friends here because I do not belong."
Apart from Wheeler, LSA Curriculum Coordinator Simon Rivers and Public Health senior Lloyd Lyons talked about their experiences as Black people, reminding the audience about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Angelo Bunker, a senior at Wayne State University, attended the event but said he did not find it appealed to his interests.
“It wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea, but I do appreciate being able to hear everyone’s stories no matter how personal they were,” Bunker said.
LSA freshman Jannet Avra commented more positively about the opportunity to learn more about the experiences of others on campus.
“It definitely puts you in good feelings,” Avra said. “I’m just glad that I got to hear everyone’s stories.”
LSA freshman Jordan Smith said she liked how hearing speakers' stories fostered a connection between her and them.
“Being able to relate to other people gives you a sense of community within the campus so (I) think there’s some value in that,” Smith said.