The DiMenna-Nyselius Library will host the inaugural “Stags Share Stories: Conversations that Connect Us” event on Thursday, Nov. 10. Inspired by the previous “Human Library®” events, held annually from 2016-2021, this event invites students to come together to have a conversation on a range of topics with a mix of faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as alumni.

Head of Library Outreach and Communications, Lisa Thornell, along with Assessment Librarian Barbara Ghilardi, touch upon the inspiration behind the new event and the change of the event’s name from “Human Library®” to “Stags Share Stories: Conversations that Connect Us.”

“Stags Share Stories is inspired by the Library’s prior Human Library® events and our shared values as a Jesuit Catholic institution which include[s] a commitment to encounter and dialogue, journeying together into a hope-filled future,” they said. “It also correlates with the University’s Diversity & Inclusive Excellence mission statement, and the Library’s goal of diversity and inclusive excellence in our strategic plan.”

Even though the newly introduced “Stags Share Stories” was inspired by past years “Human Library®” events, it is a new event and will offer a part two in the spring semester. 

There are 11 people signed up to share their stories for the Stags Share Stories event. 

Known as “storytellers,” they have chosen a story specific to them that they wish to share. The event planning team at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library describes that “The Storytellers have a variety of perspectives they want to share,” with topics of conversation including mental health, sexual violence, following a nontraditional life path, first-generation college student, LGBTQ+ activism, experiencing racism and classism.

A full list of the topics being discussed by the storytellers can be found on the DiMenna-Nyselius Library event page or on Life@Fairfield

Thornell and Ghilardi comment on the objective of the event. 

“The goal of the event is to broaden people’s points of view and encourage dialogue about topics we may not get to discuss,” they said. 

Additionally, Thornell and Ghilardi touch upon the positive impact this event will have on those who attend.

“This event is a great opportunity for Stags to connect with each other through deep and sometimes challenging conversation. It highlights the diversity of our community and could be a chance for someone to learn about a life experience or identity that is different from their own,” they added.  

Thornell and Ghilardi continue by noting the many benefits that this event will have for those who can relate to a Story being told, or to those who want to learn about certain topics outside of a classroom setting.

“There could be a Story that you feel connected to from your own similar experience and [the event] is a way to find that connection,” they commented. “There could also be students trying to learn about different topics outside their regular classroom setting which could be beneficial for them to speak to someone directly as another source of information.” 

Thornell and Ghilardi detail the passion and motivation behind each storyteller’s participation, as well as the appreciation that they have for those willing to share their story.

“What [the storytellers] all have in common is their passion for sharing their stories to break down stereotypes, prejudices or talk about topics that are stigmatized about any aspect of their identities,” they said. “It takes bravery to share your story over and over in this setting and we appreciate all of our Storytellers wanting to be part of this event.”

Operations Assistant in the Office of Student Engagement Tania Livingston contributes the reason behind why she chose to be a storyteller for the event. 

“I wanted to share my story because I believe that personal stories and personal testimonies enable people to see a version of the world and others experiences in the world that they wouldn’t have knowledge of otherwise.” 

Livingston continues to detail her excitement to be a part of the event. “ I am most excited about connecting with other staff, students and faculty on campus and having courageous conversations that lead to deeper understanding and empathy for others,” she commented. 

“Stags Share Stories” is being offered as an FYE DEI credit for first-year students. 

Sophomore Madison Platt attended this event last year and also notes that it is a great way to get an FYE credit while attending an event that is meaningful. 

“I went last year, and the person I had a conversation with kept us involved in his story and kept us engaged with the conversation by asking us questions too and letting us contribute anything we wanted.” 

“It is also fun to go with your friends to get this credit over with by going to an event that is truly interesting!” she adds.  

The event planning team at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library contribute that “we hope students who do not need credit will be interested” and encourage faculty and staff to attend as well. 

Regarding  the spring version of the event, the event planning team at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library commented that in “part two for the spring semester, Stags can share their stories through visual arts and writing.” 

Part two of the “Stags Share Stories” event “gives the ability for anonymous participation and is more inclusive to different ways of sharing stories,” shared Thornell and Ghiraldi. 

“We would like to create an exhibit for display in the Library and work with campus clubs such as FUSA’s Diversity & Inclusion Board and any others interested in this type of program. More information will be shared after the event,” they commented. 

Thornell and Ghilardi took time to thank their committee. 

“We want to give a shout-out to our committee which has representation from various departments such as Campus Ministry, Center for Social Impact; Counseling & Psychological Services, DiMenna-Nyselius Library, Murphy Center for Ignatian Spirituality, Office of Student Engagement, Office of the Provost, Online Learning, Residence Life and the English and the Visual & Performing Arts departments.”

Platt, an attendee of last year’s event, highly recommends going to this event. 

“I recommend going to this event because you get to have a meaningful conversation with someone who is likely different from you and I was genuinely able to learn a lot from my experience,” she said.

Livingston adds to the reason students should attend this event. 

“Students should attend this event and listen to my story and others like it, so they can expand their knowledge of other’s  experiences,” she said. “It is important for people to know how negative experiences can be hurtful and traumatic and anyone can make a difference either positive or negative that could be long lasting.”

This semester, “Stags Share Stories: Conversations that Connect Us” will be offered in two formats: in-person and virtual, as the event planning team at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library “felt [that] offering both formats would make the event more inclusive.”

The in-person event is a drop-in format where one to three people can speak to each storyteller at a time for conversations lasting around 20 minutes. 

To attend the virtual event, registration is required for a specific Storyteller and a 30-minute time slot must be reserved. 

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