First-Year Experience Course Leads to Connections Between Students
A class of Lebanon Valley College first-year students were challenged by their professor to better understand other students’ complex identities through a project called LVC Intersectionality. This project culminated with the students each developing a podcast of their experience.
Dr. Cathy Romagnolo, chair and associate professor of English, teaches the first-year experience “Man Up/Act Like a Lady.” The class spent the fall 2016 semester learning mostly about gender, but moved on to other topics the following semester.
“The second semester I decided that we would talk about intersectionality, so gender as it intersects with other identities, other ways that we identify and the way that we embody those identities and walk through the world and the way that multiple identities oppress us,” said Romagnolo.
For the project, students were assigned to find someone on campus who was very different from them in regards to a number of factors, including race, sexuality, religion, or gender identity. They then had to come up with interview questions, conduct the interview, and write a paper about the experience.
“If we find out about one another’s identities and their stories, we understand one another in a more complex way,” said Romagnolo.
The students in the class were excited about the project and Romagnolo was very happy after reading her students’ reflections.
“Everyone talked about how hearing one another’s stories built empathy for each other and built a kind of connection that they didn’t have before,” she said.
Romagnolo’s students believe that they learned many important lessons from the project.
“This project helped me learn and show other people the danger of the single story,” said Hannah Booth '20, an early childhood education and special education double major. “It is important that we all stop judging as soon as we see someone, but instead ask questions and see who that person really is.”
The students also see the many ways that they can continue using those lessons in the future.
“I have a new perspective on the way that I view the people around me,” said Kate Mowrey '20, an exercise major. “I will work on helping people feel comfortable in who they are. The lessons I have learned from this project will carry on with me in my daily life as I meet new people with all kinds of different identities.”
Romagnolo hopes to expand on the project and include additional faculty, students, and other members of the LVC community to collect more stories.
To listen to Booth’s, Mowrey’s, and the other FYE students’ projects, visit https://storycorps.me/communities/lvc-intersectionality/?view=interviews.
Hayley Holloway ’17 for ENG 430 Feature Writing