By the Fireplace: Booth Stories

Express Yourself. Failure. Purpose. Thank Goodness for… Serendipity. Love Stories. Faith. Why Are You Here and Not Somewhere Else?

By Sukriti Nayar, Class of 2019

By Sukriti Nayar, Class of 2019

What if I told you of a place you could hear incredible stories from people from all over the world, from all walks of life. You could hear about their greatest triumphs, and their deepest losses. Their innermost dreams and their hidden insecurities. Hear the things they wish they’d said; hear the things they’re thankful they did. You could watch strangers transform into friends or role models in just five minutes. Would you believe me? Would you go?        

I grew up in a storytelling family. I never realized how lucky I was to have been born into a family that celebrates storytelling as a way of building trust, connection, and warmth. When I came to Booth, I struggled to find a way to connect with people. I’d done all the right things: I went on a Random Walk, I overcommitted to student clubs within my first few weeks, I found like-minded people to recruit with. But I craved something more; I wanted a deeper connection with my classmates. After I joined GBC, I attended my first Booth Stories event. Inspired by the storytelling event (and podcast) The Moth, Booth Stories was created as a platform for students to share how they were really feeling about a variety of subjects – never forced or faked. I joined the GBC committee that hosted Booth Stories and began to see the power that an hour of listening to stories could have.

Amy Altchuler, (’19) speaking at Booth Stories: Gratitude in Fall 2018

Amy Altchuler, (’19) speaking at Booth Stories: Gratitude in Fall 2018

Each Booth Stories event has the same look and feel. We turn on the virtual fireplace (complete with the crackling sounds, thank you YouTube), dim the lights, and create an aura of coziness – sort of like the hushed reverie that comes with storytelling around a campfire. Once we took over as second years, we helped carry on the traditions we learned as first years. Every Booth Stories event has a theme, and we ask speakers – our own brave Boothies – to tell a story or a couple of vignettes around the theme for a few minutes (and then allow the audience to ask questions after). Sometimes, the stories have a lesson or a takeaway. Sometimes, they just end with a pause… knowing that the ending is yet to be written. Almost every time, I cry (but I’m a crier, so take that with a grain of salt).

It has been the greatest privilege and honor of my time at Booth to shepherd this series. Many people have told me that the stories they heard from speakers during the First Day Booth Stories event tipped the scales for them in favor of Booth. I’m lucky to have not only met so many people through Booth Stories, but to have encouraged people to speak who maybe otherwise wouldn’t have. Hearing from our classmates about their lives, through incredibly personal, vulnerable, and human stories, has provided me a constant outlet for my gratitude for this place and these people. I firmly believe that everyone has a story worth hearing. Booth Stories has been my chance to amplify some of those stories that may not otherwise have been heard.

Won’t you pull up a seat by the fire? We can’t wait to hear yours.