The Power of Storytelling

My lunch hour today was unlike any I’ve ever had at MIT. I attended the first—of what I hope will be many—storytelling events as part of the Women’s League new initiative, MITell, lead by Staff Associate, Kirsty Bennett. MITell invites all members of the MIT community to come together and share stories.  A group of approximately 25 community members of all ages gathered to listen and and to tell stories. Although not everyone shared a story, by collectively listening (and cheering on the storytellers), a palpable sense of community was created in that hour.  Kirsty has a wonderful way of making people feel comfortable and at home, enhancing the sense of community and belonging. 

I had a chance to speak with Kirsty prior to this first event.  Before coming to MIT this past spring, she worked for the radio show, The Moth and built and ran their College Program. I asked Kirsty what compelled her to launch MITell. She answered, “MIT feels like the perfect place to launch a program that is open to all members of the community. My dream would be for this program to bring together voices from across campus—staff, students, faculty, post-grads and spouses and partners alike.”

She continued, “When I think about the MIT Better World Initiative, I think of all the people involved in that mission. The faculty, students, the partners who make it possible for late nights in the lab and the office. Everyone has something different driving them. I’m excited to meet these people and hear what they have to say. 

“I’ve always been fascinated with the power of narrative in the hands of its owner. When we tell our own stories, it challenges us to look back on our lives and reflect on the choices we did or did not make, and how that shapes who we are as a person. When I think of who I am, I see myself as a sum of my decisions.”

This comment especially resonated with us here at Radius. Encouraging members of our community to reflect on their work and lives is central to our mission. By incorporating storytelling as part of that reflection process, we can examine how our work, our thoughts and our actions play out in the world. 

Please join the next MITell events on Monday, November 6 and December 11 at 12noon in 10-340 Bring your story!