Audio project preserves college perspectives, narratives

The Voices at Geneseo Project is amassing a collection of audio narratives that celebrates the diversity of the campus community.

Since its inception in fall 2010, students, alumni and faculty have submitted personal stories to contribute to the project’s online archive of digital recordings. Shared experiences include stories about coming into one’s true identity, struggling with illness and living with family members who face adversity.

According to the project’s website, one of its purposes is to “encourage individuals to build relationships across difference.”

“The ultimate goal is to educate the campus about the fact there are so many different stories to be shared,” said Associate Director of the College Union and Activities Carey Backman, who leads the project.

Backman said that she enjoys hearing people’s stories, especially the stories that focus on living in two different worlds: college and home.

People who have submitted their experiences include Tom Matthews, associate dean of leadership and service, Monica Schneider, associate professor of psychology and both students and alumni, including seniors Silvia Roma and Jaclyn Vetrano.

According to Backman, the narrative recording process is simple. After contributors fill out the release form on the Voices at Geneseo website, it takes about a half hour to record a story. The website provides a list of questions and suggestions, but the storytelling tends to be free-flowing and casual, unlike a formal interview. Depending on a contributor’s comfort level, Backman said, some interviews are conducted as question-and-answer sessions. Contributors are also given the option to remain anonymous.

According to Backman, the project is growing “slowly but surely.”

“We’re trying to expand the number of narratives we have and key wording them for research,” Backman said.

She said that Voices at Geneseo is also hoping to connect with Heard@Geneseo, a student organization that conducts and publishes interviews with local senior citizens. Backman added that she also hopes to incorporate students’ Geneseo experiences as freshmen or seniors in future stories.

Backman said she encourages both students and staff to participate in the project. To learn more or to hear the stories that others have shared visit the Voices at Geneseo Project website.