Harnessing the Power of Stories

Faculty Sponsor

Liz Wuerffel


Arts and Sciences



ORCID Identifier(s)

ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-6142-3598

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2018


What matters to you? When have you felt a sense of belonging? Not belonging? The Welcome Project wants to know. With a 300+ story collection, the Project gathers a variety of individual perspectives, covering a range of topics from race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, immigration, and many more. The Welcome Project provides participants a space to dig into our stories' themes and think about how they can apply to their own contexts. Participants frequently walk away feeling excited and motivated by the experience. Thus, I wondered: how can people take the Welcome Project with them to their own institutions? The toolkit I created aims to be a comprehensive, step-by-step guide for those wanting to start their own Welcome Project. It is intended not only to respond to the need of energized participants but also to the Project's need to quickly and effectively respond to an increasing number of requests from individuals and institutions looking to replicate the project. Introducing the Project to another institution can be laborious and costly, so the creation of the kit is of use on both fronts. The toolkit, itself, includes the breadth of the work done on the Project such as: how to interview, edit stories, and then facilitate conversations with those stories using the Center for Civic Reflection's practice. The toolkit aims to give other institutions the capability to learn the Welcome Project's basic practices, which, once harnessed, give participants the rare opportunity to come together across difference to discuss issues that permeate their campuses and communities.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Willow Walsh is a junior English major from Valparaiso, IN. She is minoring in Environmental Studies, German, and Creative Writing. Currently, she interns for the Welcome Project and serves on the President's Commission for an Inclusive Valpo Community (CIVC) as well as Valparaiso City's Human Relations Council.

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