The St. Lawrence Story...or Stories
What is the St. Lawrence Story?
Often times as Admissions Ambassadors and students of St. Lawrence, we employ phrases such as the “St. Lawrence experience” or the “St. Lawrence Story” to paint a picture of life as Laurentians nestled in a small, upstate New York town. We share with our friends, family, and prospective students a phrase that sounds lovely, but actually manifests itself quite differently than the term implies.
What is the “St. Lawrence Story?” How do we tell this story and – more importantly – why does it matter? Perhaps to answer those questions, we should think about what a story represents in the first place. The Oxford Dictionary defines a story as “an account of past events in someone's life or in the development of something.” Stories, and the way we tell them, remain largely influenced by our life experiences and our perception of the world around us.
Why does it matter?
Author Chimamanda Adiche draws upon the personal nature of storytelling in her TED talk titled, “The Danger of a Single Story.” (I would encourage everyone to have a look at this talk!) Ultimately, Adiche uses her talk to warn against utilizing a single narrative to describe a shared experience. While the St. Lawrence Story might be one that we all share; the way we experience it remains unique to each and every one of us. Telling a single story of St. Lawrence threatens the individuality and the uniqueness of our individual Laurentian experiences – experiences influenced largely by our cultural background, our upbringing, and our aspirations.
I want to stress that many stories actually come together to make up the St. Lawrence Story. This story represents a place where students of all backgrounds and with varying interests convene in unified support of one another and of an academic experience that encourages engagement and reflection upon the issues of our time. This story acknowledges that difference makes a place unique, and that without our drastically different experiences St. Lawrence would not be a place conducive to practicing globally-oriented thinking, nor would it be a place with the strong community that we pride ourselves on.
To prospective students considering St. Lawrence as an option to further your education: I want you to know that your experience here will not be universal, rather, it will help you find your voice and tell a story that will be received by a community invested in creating a unique, diverse, and engaging experience. Your story will be part of a larger one that makes this university special.
How do we tell it?
Sometimes we share our stories quietly through our actions; the classes we enroll in, the clubs we participate in, and the people we engage with can all come together to tell one of the many stories of St. Lawrence. Sometimes we share our stories quite literally, whether it’s at open office hours with President Fox, during a long Dana-sit (a storytelling experience that entails several hours of snacking in the dining hall), or simply snuggling in with our friends and catching up after a long week. St. Lawrence students are constantly telling stories – sometimes silently and sometimes literally – that illustrate their experience as Laurentians in the place we call home.