It’s been a year and a half since I proposed this series. Drawing from Humans of New York, I wanted the Community Narrative Project to serve as a similar digital space to affirm shared experiences, provide intergenerational advice, and encourage vulnerability with community members. In my own experiences at Brown, my connections with other community members are without a doubt the reason I have come this far.
I remember feeling particularly lonely my freshman year as I struggled to find community in Providence. I had high expectations for my time at Brown, and was discouraged and embarrassed when I felt unhappy with my college experience. I found solace in stories from graduating U-FLi seniors, who listed off the buildings they had cried in on campus or talked about the times they considered transferring. They mentioned how time and time again, their support networks came through to pick them up when they were down.
When proposing this digital project, I hoped to recreate the sense of community I felt during those U-FLi events. I wanted to acknowledge the weight of those moments when our individual realities feel especially salient and isolating, while also highlighting and affirming everything we bring to the table — our strengths, our pastimes, our passions.
I like to end interviews for this project by asking folks who they are away from Brown, as the pressures of academia can quickly feel overwhelming. It feels grounding to remind ourselves that our worth is not tied to our productivity, to our academic performance, to our student identities. We are friends, family members, poets, dancers, artists, Hot Cheetos consumers (and/or distributors).
I’m grateful to have shared moments of vulnerability and reflection with the folks I was lucky enough to interview, to witness how this community always shows up to affirm and celebrate each other. I’m excited to share we will be posting a few more highlights to finish out the semester. These times are difficult in more ways than one, but I hope we can continue to find joy in our stories, in our friends, and in our community.
If you’d like to view past highlights, please visit http://blogs.brown.edu/uflidigitalarchive/.
-Jasmine Ruiz ’20.5 (she/hers)