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“Be the Story” event kicks off N4 programming at Seton Hill University

October 7, 2016

Recently, we saw how Sarah Lawrence and Concordia College have developed N4 programming on campus. Today, we stop by Seton Hill University, a small liberal arts school at the foothills of the mountains in western Pennsylvania. Seton Hill’s mission is to educate students committed to transforming the world. The university is working with N4 to foster deeper cultural understanding within their community.

Guided by Christine CusickProfessor of English and Director of the Honors Program, Seton Hill has organized story exchanges with local Pittsburgh high schools and the refugee and immigrant community. As Christine puts it, N4 helps “inspire such hope and authentic relational change in our Seton Hill community and connect our small hilltop Pennsylvania campus to the world.”

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This past September, Seton Hill gathered more than 400 community members in an event called “Be the Story: Mission in Action” to welcome first year students. The event kicked off a full year of story exchanges on topics such as race, economics, gender, and the environment, both in the classroom and in campus programming. In Spring 2017, Christine will teach a N4 inspired literature course on “Storytelling and Empathy.” Through integrating Art Therapy, Music and Dance programs, the story exchange experience will include nonverbal means of storytelling.

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Sophomore Nadege Joseph, a Spanish and Biology double major, recalls the safe environment created by the story exchange: “I was thoroughly surprised as to how comfortable I was when I was surrounded by my peers and professors who were all willing to share.” Madison Wilson, a sophomore majoring in Psychology and Sociology, says, “N4 gave me the power and encouragement to look at every person’s whole story rather [than] just the page they were open to when I met them.”

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Reflecting on Seton Hill’s collaboration with N4, Christine tells us: “Sitting in so many circles of stories over the past year, I now understand what matters is the exchange of breath and emotion as we inhabit one another’s stories. N4 is transforming our community. I don’t think that I can ever approach teaching, or even just living ordinary days, in quite the same way.”

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Thanks to the Seton Hill community for sharing their stories!