It takes real courage to go on stage and tell a room full of strangers about painful moments from your past. The theme for the Eastern Michigan University Campus Life Storytellers Lounge last Thursday was scars, and even with such personal subject matter the atmosphere was relaxed and intimate.
Room 300 of the EMU Student Center was packed with listeners, and the host entered the stage at 9 p.m., while snow whirled in the wind outside. Ten pre-selected storytellers braved the spotlight with topics ranging from whimsical circumstances and accidents, to personal tragedies and deep emotional wounds. Even Geoff Larcom, EMU’s executive director of media relations and the guy who sends all those emails you don’t read, told an amusing story about a prank he pulled in 1978 that went horribly wrong.
The event was an emotional rollercoaster of laughter and tears, sometimes all in the course of one story. The host maintained a conversational vibe with the audience and even told some jokes to keep spirits high after profoundly dispiriting narratives. The criteria for the stories were that they must take between five to seven minutes to tell and they must be true. Participation in the event was open to students, faculty and anyone else affiliated with the university.
Jedi Curva, 21, a transfer student at EMU, told a sentimental story of a struggle during his life in a village in the Philippines. His story seemed to move many in the audience to tears.
“I’ve never felt so naked in my life,” Curva said about bearing his soul to a roomful of strangers. “Only two people knew my story before tonight … my only hope was that it would be well received.”
Campus Life is a department at EMU that hosts a number of events including Sky Lounge, Open Mic Lounge and Laugh Lounge.
Unfortunately if you have a story burning inside of you that you simply must share, you’ll have to wait. Storyteller’s Lounge will be returning in fall 2013, but the exact date has yet to be set. The program and its affiliates can be found online at emich.campuslife.edu, or on their Facebook and Twitter pages. If you feel so inclined as to hear the type of stories told, there’s also footage on YouTube —just search EMU Campus Life.
Antonia Moses, a senior studying art management, works for Campus Life in organizing these events.
“I think it’s really important that the program we do for the students is something they can relate to and makes them want to come back,” Moses said. “[We want people] to bring their friends and just enjoy their evening exploring what the campus has to offer.”
Events like these certainly create a sense of community among students. Listening to stories of real firsthand experiences of the lives of peers stirs one to recognize similarities in our seemingly separate human existence.
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