This I Believe...the Power of Story-telling

By Tabatha Cruz
@tabatha_cruz

I inherited the gift of story-telling from my parents. Mom and dad are very passionate when telling stories of the days of yore. My mother in particular would be very animated when sharing a story from the news, like a crime or a natural emergency somewhere across the world, for example, that you would think she was the one there experiencing it. In their 8 decades on this Earth, my parents have had their fair share of trials and tribulations, but also an enriching and full life. As I child, I never took the time to appreciate my parents’ stories. I would ignore them even because they lived “in a different time”. However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve taken the time to activelylisten and receive the gift of wisdom from them. It is now that I realize how much their stories have impacted and are a part of who I am as a person, as a diversity ally, and as a Student Affairs professional.

As a diversity advocate in the world of higher education, I like to promote the power of sharing one’s story as a means to build more inclusive communities. It allows us the opportunity to get a glimpse of how someone else may view the world through their eyes. It also provides us with a moment to connect with someone on a deeper level as story-telling can sometimes be very personal. In that aspect, stories are meaningful gifts that we share with others.

In working in multicultural affairs, story-telling allows for creating new learning experiences for both the person sharing the story as well as the one who is listening to itOne of the main reasons I teach my students about story-telling is to help break barriers and negative stereotypes. When I was in college, I learned that I had a voice and was encouraged to use it by my mentors and advisors. While sharing my experiences came easy to me (and because I enjoyed it), I know that for some it is not. It puts you in a place of vulnerability, and after you’ve experienced negative experiences on campus (like some of my students have) it becomes so hard to trust others. Therefore, in a way story-telling serves as a means of supporthealing, and trust-building across communities.

To conclude, I believe that ALL OF OUR STORIES ARE IMPORTANTWe share the human experience in common: We dream, we observe, we do, we feel, we loveBut every person is unique and complex, and that is what makes life so enriching and beautiful. There is no right way to dream, to observe, to do, to feel, or to love…we just do so in many different ways. That is the beauty about life. So share your story today with someone, in whatever forum you choose. You never know what doors about learning you might open for someone.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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