Written by Leda Zakarison
“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
- Patrick Rothfuss
This year, the theme of the Power and Privilege symposium is “Understanding Identity.” Identity means so many different things – who you parents are, what you look like, where you were born, what you wear, what you believe, who you love – but I love Patrick Rothfuss’ image of an identity made up of a story. I would add, though, that we’re made up of not just one story, but of many, all intertwining, coming into conflict, and working with one another to make up our unique experiences of the world.
One of the types of events that will be taking place during the Symposium are panels. This panels will basically opportunities for students, faculty, and community members to share their own stories and explore how their identities have transformed, have been transformed, and are being transformed by them. During session two alone, you can hear students talk about how their religious identity and queer identities or thoughts on LGBTQ issues have influenced one anther in “Religion and Queer Identity”; discuss how students’ identities as women have affected their experience at Whitman in “Women of Whitman”; or explore how students’ identities as part of racial or ethnic minorities has impacted their Whitman story in “Life in the 20%.” I’m so excited for all of us in the Whitman community to have this opportunity to listen to and discuss the stories of our peers. Hopefully, listening to the stories of others will help us to consider how our own stories have impacted – and continue to impact – our lived identities. This chance to engage with other people’s stories is one of my favorite parts of the symposium, and I hope you’ll engage in these explorations with us.