The Community Day of Learning, held throughout campus on Tuesday, February 23, offered a range of ways for the Bryn Mawr community to discuss issues surrounding class, both on campus and in the world. Students, faculty, and staff members were encouraged to take part in sessions, workshops, lectures, panel discussions, and even film screenings on the topic. Among the 40+ sessions that were offered was “Class in Session: StoryCORE Edition,” where several students organized a version of their community-development program StoryCORE for a room of 15-20 students and staff members.
StoryCORE, which stands for “Connecting Over Reflections and Experiences,” is a program that responds to the increasingly diverse population at Bryn Mawr. It’s a place for students to come and talk about their experiences, compare stories, and it creates an open dialogue for conversations around the topic and issues of diversity.
“We value story sharing,” explains student facilitator Coco Wang ’16. “We believe by sharing personal stories, we can to some extent relieve the stress that individuals are experiencing at Bryn Mawr and create a more understanding community.”
The program itself is different than a conventional workshop. Each week, one of the seven trained student facilitators organizes a StoryCORE session with different people from the campus community. The facilitator begins the session by telling a personal story that relates to a broad theme for that week’s session. Everyone is then invited to discuss, comment, react, ask questions, and tell their own experiences. The sessions are informal, but confidential, and facilitators discuss the reoccurring themes that emerge. These themes are then reported out, so administrators can become aware of them and address areas of concern.
This Pensby Center program, which was developed in spring 2012, has over the years changed staffing, students, and even name, but continues to remain true to its original mission: “As Bryn Mawr becomes increasingly diverse, enrolling higher numbers of both international students and students from underrepresented groups in the United States, we want to be sure that we are supporting and responding to all students as best we can. We want to think about how we can best recognize the expertise and insight that students bring when they join the Bryn Mawr community. And we want to learn from students themselves how best to do these things.”