Before we had a name, founding member Ron Rash introduced the N4 concept to Dawn Gilchrist at Swain County High School. In 2013, the two educators kicked off our efforts in this state at Western Carolina University’s literary festival.
Dawn, who is also a Narrative 4 advisor, is head of the English Department at Swain County. Ron is a highly acclaimed author and serves as the John Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University. Both are determined to afford college and high school students a variety of diverse and authentic experiences beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains and outside of the Tar Heel state.
In April of 2013, Ron promoted Narrative 4 onstage and alongside side co-founders Colum McCann and Lisa Consiglio. Dawn was in the audience as was Jason Inman, a WCU graduate student working on his Maters thesis. He was studying empathy and is now focusing on N4’s exchange process.
Ron, Dawn and Jason attended our 2014 summit at Yale University,and things took off after that. Dawn and N4 advisors Joanna Diaz and Sophia DeVivo from Newtown High School began to plan exchanges between their schools that involved American Literature, Native American Studies and Conversations on Race.
The inter-school exchanges took place live via Google Hangouts. Working with this type of technology can be frustrating at times, but every day we are discovering new ways to address technological challenges so that we can connect people all over the world right here on our very own website. This is a crucial piece of our mission and we look forward to continuing our work in North Carolina to ensure that distance does not get in the way of our vision.