By Pushya Jataprolu '16
The avenue at Booth that encourages you to open your heart, wear it on your sleeve and tell your story to a supportive audience is back. The first event of this year was on ‘Spectacular Failures’, conducted on February 17 and the next one is slated for March 9. ChiBus took this opportunity to understand the perspective of two of the conveners this year, Sid Nair ‘16 and Ryan McDonnell ‘17.
[ChiBus]: How did the concept of BoothStories start?
[Sid Nair]: BoothStories was started in Winter quarter last year by a second-year at the time (Linh Lam ‘15). There was no real institution behind it so the turnout tended to be small. The motivation to bring it back is: to get people to talk about things beyond recruiting, classes, and what happened at TNDC. This quarter has been challenging for our community in many different ways, and at GBC we brainstormed ways to get people talking about real things again. With BoothStories coming up at dinner a few weeks prior and Kelly Fee mentioning it during a GBC meeting, it suddenly built momentum. It was easy to rally a team around the idea, and we knew from survey-data that the appetite for meaningful conversations was strong.
[CB]: What made you want to work on BoothStories?
[SN]: I thought the idea was really cool, and that its scope was limited last year (e.g. very few first-years showed up to events). Anecdotally, I would hear things like “I feel like I don’t really know ANYONE at Booth” or “why is everyone so cliquey?” etc. There seemed to be all this anxiety around building meaningful relationships, but no real avenue to change it. BoothStories can do just that, especially, in a way that is inclusive and sustainable.
[Ryan McDonnell]: I used to be a teacher and found that stories were a great way to get some of the most important concepts across to my students. That realization grew my interest in storytelling as means to share and express oneself. I think BoothStories is a great way to engage in storytelling and, for many of us, try something new.
[CB]: What do you want your fellow Boothies to gain out of BoothStories, as a storyteller versus the audience?
[SN]: I’d love to see Boothies step out of their comfort zone at BoothStories by telling a story or asking a difficult question. Telling a personal story before 70 or more people takes courage. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn't be nervous or afraid of doing that. What’s been amazing yet not surprising to see is how supportive and appreciative the audience is. When one person shares, it impacts everyone else in the audience. It gets maybe two to three others to open up that day in the audience. Then people talk about it and discuss it after the event. A single story can be really powerful in its reach. In Professor Epley’s class we talked about how stories can reaffirm an informal culture in much stronger ways than a mission statement can. So if you want to share one for yourself or to impact your community, we encourage you to do it!
[CB]: Have you faced any open detractors? What would you say to them?
[RM]: Not at all. Everyone has been incredibly supportive. We had fantastic turnout and stories during our February event. I have heard some hesitancy from people that feel they don’t have a story or are nervous about sharing, but we want to encourage everyone who is even slightly interested to speak with us; we are happy to help you identify your story or act as a sounding board. Most importantly, attend our upcoming March 9 event!
[SN]: I believe every single person at Booth has something useful to contribute, if they find the courage to do so.
Pushya is a second-year, signing out on her last edition as People Editor with this amazing story. Au revoir!