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As many of the freshmen and some upperclassmen will remember from New Student Orientation, Inside Out had multiple shows at Kaplan. These sessions of One Tribe Many Stories were mandatory (one session each for different dorm complexes), and showed incoming students a personal side of many different and diverse experiences. For example, some of the performances included moving stories about anorexia, and raps about growing up poor and mixed-race. The show resonated with me for a long time after it ended, so when a hallmate of mine offered to bring me along to an Inside Out meeting, I jumped at the chance.

When I arrived with my hallmate at the Center for Student Diversity (now in the Sadler expansion), the meeting had already started its icebreakers. Since I had arrived about two minutes late, I wasn’t entirely sure where to sit, so I just sat down on a soft pillow-bench in the corner. A minute or two later, when it was time for my turn to introduce myself, I stood up and gave my normal introduction (which is along the lines of “Hey, I’m Neeltje and I’m going to every club”). Immediately, and for the first time up to this point, someone in the room mentioned that they recognized me from a previous club (Satanic Mechanics/Rocky Horror). This was a huge highlight of the meeting for me, because it meant that my mission was starting to become known without me needing to explain it to everybody.

Anyway, after introductions were over, the people effectively running the meeting (it doesn’t seem to have an elected exec team) described the task for the day: free writing! There was an additional simultaneous task though, which was for each of us to help build a story by writing a sentence on a piece of paper, while only seeing the previous sentence written by someone else. Personally, I only was able to participate in the single sentence story building, as I’d left my laptop in my room so I couldn’t free write. That being said, everybody who was free-writing seemed like they enjoyed it, and many of the members actively sought out other members’ writing advice (which obviously improves one’s writing skills, which is a decently big reason for joining Inside Out). Anyways, as I participated in the single sentence story building, I realized that I hadn’t (and still haven’t at 60 clubs visited) seen any clubs that used this kind of collaborative activity to provide such hilarity (when the story is read aloud). To the extent of my knowledge, even Word Shop hasn’t done this!

As the club meeting wound down, it was time to read the two stories (two pieces of paper were passed around) that were made by the single sentence story building exercise. As they were being read out, a realization hit me. While these activities were probably only meant to cause laughter at the end, they also served to showcase how different ways of thinking, and imperfect inferences based on limited context, led to radically different sentences and subplots within the stories. This meshes quite well with Inside Out’s overall goal, which is to expose people to the diversity of viewpoints and inner struggles (one might say personal subplots), and to build overall understanding and empathy towards people who express themselves as they are.

Overall, I’d like to commend Inside Out for providing a welcoming space for anybody to be themselves, and for using activities that not only fit well with Inside Out’s overall goals, but also are genuinely fun for everybody!

#Anybody Welcome #Theater #Writing

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