Saturday, October 23, 2010

Upcoming 'Swapping Stories' Event On U of L Campus

TransGriot Note: An interesting announcement of an upcoming event on the U of L campus from Brian Buford that I'd thought I'd share with you and my Kentuckiana TransGriot readers.

Next week we are kicking off an award-winning project we created with the Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM) to explore how people on opposite sides of an issue come together in respect and friendship. It's called "Swapping Stories" and the title refers to the common experience among people who identify as Christian or LGBT (or both!) of telling a story about their lives. If you are LGBT, it's your coming out experience. If you're Christian, it might be your spiritual transformation or testimony. If you identify as both, it could include elements of both stories from your life.

The world tells us that these two groups can never come together unless it's in conflict, arguments, and hurt feelings. But Swapping Stories is all about setting aside agendas and learning to listen to another person's story. This experience demonstrates that we more alike than different. It's social justice and peace making in their truest sense, challenging some of the most basic societal rules and assumptions that have developed from years of misunderstanding.

So how does it work? Here's a brief description:

Students who choose to participate will attend a kick-off session next Thursday, October 28, at 7 p.m. in the Cultural Center. After a short training on the principles of Swapping Stories, you'll be paired up with a lunch partner and we'll give you $10 to spend on a meal together. Your job is to go out to eat, share your stories with one another, and see what happens! It's as easy as that. Your assignment will be to listen without judgment, honor one another's experience, and look for common ground. Everyone will come back together for dinner on November 9 at 8:30 (right after commonGround and BCM meetings conclude that night) to talk about how it went and what we learned.

REAL change happens when we step outside our comfort zone, and I know that for many of us, this is a big step. Come learn more about it at the kick off, and hear from the leaders of both groups who practiced earlier this week, as well as those who swapped stories in 2008. We won a "Spirit of Diversity" award that year for this project, and we expect another successful year!

(One important addition: We are committed to making this a safe, affirming, positive experience for everyone involved and making certain that your identity is respected. If at any point you have concerns, the Office for LGBT Services is here to intervene and help you resolve them. Participation is voluntary and it's always your choice whether to continue or not.)

Swapping Stories Kick Off
Thursday, October 28, 2010
7 p.m.EDT
Cultural Center

First preference for participating will be given to students who are members of the BCM or an LGBT student organization at U of L. Light refreshments will be served!

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