CUnique Stories is seeking volunteers to take part in their storytelling program, which will take place this spring
The University of Colorado Boulder, as it exists today, was founded on the shoulders of those who came before. Many of those stories, however, become lost once those voices leave the university. A new project aims to bring those stories back—for the benefit of those still here.
CUnique Stories, a project co-designed by members of the University Libraries Learning & Engagement team and an arts and sciences alumna and instructor, seeks to bring alumni back to campus so that they can have a conversation with current members of the community, ensuring those stories of the alumni’s experiences survive the passage of time—and shed new light on the CU Boulder from yesterday.
“The aim of this project is to give contemporary members of the community a sense of how CU Boulder is a living, breathing process, that its history is an ongoing, organic thing that we’re all a part of, and that we’re all participating in and contributing to. We’re all benefiting from those who came before and who forged the path we’re on,” said Giulia Bernardini (MAArtHist), a museum-studies graduate student, humanities instructor and co-organizer of the project.
The idea for CUnique Stories first began as part of a class assignment. For that, Bernardini had to go around campus, discovering CU Boulder’s history through places, from George Norlin taking on the KKK to Mary Rippon, the first female professor at CU—after whom the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre is named—having to give up her child because female educators were not supposed to have families at the time.
“I started to think how can we get the history of CU told by the people who’ve been part of that history? How can we get alumni, perhaps, to share their history of CU Boulder in order to make it a living history?”
Guided by the Human Library project out of Denmark and previous Living Library programs out of the University Libraries at CU Boulder, the collaborators designed CUnique Stories, a project seeking to bring alumni to campus to tell their CU Boulder stories—whatever they may be.
“Our hope is that we’ll have a wide variety of stories that will paint a picture of the range of experiences people have had at CU Boulder, whether someone wants to tell a story about an academic achievement or a moment in a particular class or an extracurricular activity they were involved with or their political activism,” Bernardini explained.
The vision for the project is that these “storytellers” will be paired with three to four “listeners,” who will be current members of the CU Boulder community. The storyteller will tell their tale—which will be honed with the help of the CUnique Stories organizers in a workshop prior to the event—and then the two groups can discuss the story, encouraging a dialogue between the past and the present.
“History and knowledge can be transmitted in a multitude of ways,” Bernardini said. “Often, when we think of history and the past and we think of books, library stacks and whatnot, but history is a living, breathing thing, and how lucky for us if we can tap into some of that history by hearing someone tell us their story.”
CUnique Stories is scheduled to take place in-person in late March or April in Norlin Library. However, that may change depending on COVID-19 conditions. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and the organizers will be in touch.