Storytelling lecture kicks off Cultural Harmony Week

Geneseo kicked off its 13th-annual Cultural Harmony Week, which will focus on the theme “Create. Play. Educate: That’s how we learn!” The week began on Wednesday Oct. 24 with a visit from StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization that visited the campus to host the event “Everyone has a Story to Tell.”

The organization promotes personal interviews as a way to establish relationships and mutual understanding.

Coordinator of the Office of Multicultural Programs Fatima Rodriguez said, “Stories are a part of how we learn, create and educate … To use StoryCorps seemed like the natural way to open Cultural Harmony Week.”

StoryCorps representatives Katherine Brook and Jorge Rojas talked to students about what it means to listen to others and how that can foster better relationships and understanding.

Brook and Rojas shared a series of clips that exemplified what an interview can reveal about a person.

“You can use storytelling and listening to make being a student easier. We want people to leave as friends,” Rojas said.

In an interactive exercise, students talked one-on-one and asked personal questions like “What is your earliest memory?” and “What is the proudest moment of your life?” These were meant to spark a genuine conversation between the interviewee and interviewer based on commonalities and intimacy rather than small talk.

According to Rojas, in a school as diverse as Geneseo, students can build relationships across differences by “transforming differences into curiosity. Something that seemingly pulls you apart can be something that inspires you to learn more about the person,” he said, adding that listening to different people has potential to change lives.

Brooks said that, as a StoryCorps facilitator, allowing other people to express beliefs that may not agree with one’s own is “trying” and “educating.” Brooks also said that she encourages students to record interviews on their own because what one can learn from the dialogue is “priceless.”

In light of its mission, StoryCorps created the National Day of Listening, which asks that all Americans take an hour to record an interview with a loved one the day after Thanksgiving.

Throughout Cultural Harmony Week, which concludes on Sunday Nov. 4, the Kinetic Gallery will host “The Power to Play: from Trash to Treasure” collection provided by ChildFund International. The week’s events will also feature relaxation sessions through yoga, water aerobics, Zumba and poetry.

On Thursday Oct. 25, there will be a showing of Miss Bala as part of the International Film Series. Keynote speaker Cheryl Kilodavis, author of My Princess Boy, will address students on Monday Oct. 29.

Scott Eberle, editor for the American Journal of Play, will run the event “Let’s Play!” on Tuesday Oct. 30. On Thursday Nov. 1, Repertorio Español will present “En el Tiempo de las Mariposas.” Jabali Afrika will perform for students on Friday Nov. 2. The Intercultural Dinner on Sunday Nov. 4 will conclude Cultural Harmony Week.