Locals to share stories of strength at MVMC

The Multicultural Center has been hard at work practicing the art of storytelling and its role in bringing people together. On Saturday, June 30, five locals will share their stories at the MVMC’s Dialogues of Diversity, an event emphasizing multicultural stories of strength.

Taking inspiration from an event in Telluride during which female immigrants shared their stories, the MVMC planned Moab’s own event, but with a twist. “The staff wanted to put our own flare on it,” explained MVMC Director Rhiana Medina. “We didn’t want to tell sad immigration stories. We wanted to tell positive stories, and not necessarily just about immigration.” The list of speakers has not been disclosed and will remain a surprise to be revealed at the event. “The theme of the evening is being a new person in a new place,” Medina continued. “So there’s a story of a man and his first time living off the reservation, there are a couple of immigrant stories, there are stories about people who immigrated to a country outside the United States and lived as an American in a foreign country and had to acclimate there.”

The event is not only an evening of sharing, but it will also provide well-rehearsed and poignant experiences, crafted with the help of professional storyteller Steffani Raff. “We’ve been doing Skype training sessions,” Medina said of the process. “It’s been a journey for each of them, learning to tell their stories in a way that might be received by an audience.” Raff has spent hours assisting the presenters as they curate their stories, and it is not only the speakers she has taught along the way. “The questions she asks and the way she helps people organize their thoughts is really cool,” Medina said. “I’m taking away tons of pearls of wisdom from this experience.”

Medina believes that through the stories that will be told, the audience will both learn something new about members of their community and realize they have more in common with each other than they know. “I think we wanted different people to show this connection that no matter who you are or where you’re from, we all have these human experiences,” Medina said. “Certainly everyone has been the new person somewhere and had to kind of find their way through that, and once we get a little bit of distance from that, there might still be some sadness but there’s also some laughter. We realize how creative we are because we make our own places in the world with the tools that we have.”

Dialogues of Diversity was born from a place that lies at the heart of the Multicultural Center’s mission to build bridges across cultures through community collaboration, family support, and education. “We’re bringing people together by asking them to willingly expose themselves in a way,” Medina said. They’re real, true personal stories about people’s experiences.” She also hopes that people who are curious about the MVMC will come to the event and get a taste of all it has to offer.

The June 30 event will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center and dinner will be served after the presentations. Tickets cost $35 and are available at the MVMC. All proceeds benefit the MVMC.

ByBy Jacque Garcia

The Times-Independent