Students and alumni will come together next week, during Kansas University’s homecoming celebrations, to share how volunteering and service changed their lives.
It’s billed as a “Story Slam,” an event similar to a poetry slam, where members of the community will gather and tell stories around the theme of service at KU.
Jeff Severin, director of KU’s Center for Sustainability, is scheduled to tell one of the stories. He said he would describe his experiences as a KU undergraduate, when he helped form a sustainable gardening group on campus.
“I think we kind of know the impacts these programs have on the community,” he said, but the effects on volunteers aren’t as well-known. “It really does shape where we go with our lives from that point forward.”
Another scheduled storyteller is Will Dale, a KU student who participated in a Teach for America program in Chicago and later went on a PBS-sponsored trip that mirrored the path of the Freedom Riders, civil activists who rode integrated buses in the South during segregation. Dale and Severin will join other KU students, alumni and staff who will present at the event.
Stephanie Jian is co-director for KU’s Alternative Breaks program, one of the hosts of the event, along with KU’s Center for Community Outreach. She said she hoped the event could inspire others to participate in service activities.
“I think stories are a really powerful medium for sharing a message,” she said.
The story slam is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union. A reception with food and drink will follow the event in the Big 12 room.
Though this is the first time for the event, organizers hope to bring it back in future years.