December 8th, 2017
Event by Women of Appalachia Project
WVU Libraries was pleased to host Women of Appalachia: Spoken Word, September 30, 2017 in the Milano Reading Room of the Downtown Campus Library. The curated event that travels around the region featuring some 30 women artists, included several West Virginia artists. WVU Campus Read Director and Teaching Assistant Professor of Marketing, Susan Lantz, graciously provided a reflection of the event for the Libraries’ blog, below, accompanied by links to recordings of the event.
Today, as I begin the semester assessment in my 97-student “Intro” classes, I asked the students,
“What things did we do in class to make you better understand the diversity of West Virginia University?”
I expected typical answers like. . .
“We read a book about women who were African American.”
“We watched a TED talk about women in Rwanda who are entrepreneurs.”
“We talked about race and class in business when we watched the one video.”
And, indeed. I got those answers. But I got another one that pleasantly surprised me.
A young women raised her hand and said, “That event you told us to go to at the library…the one where the women read stories. ‘Women Speak,’ I think it was called.
I could have kissed her.
Because, even though a 48 year old Assistant Professor of Marketing like me absolutely knew that a spoken word event consisting of Appalachian Women telling their stories speaks to the diversity of our college, state, and region. . . I wasn’t sure the students would. Especially because the event was on a beautiful September Saturday afternoon. And especially because the event was on a list of events that students could choose from (they were required to attend five.)
But, to my surprise, not only did over 100 people show up to the Spoken Word Event, but over 30 of them were students. Some of them were native West Virginians. Some of them were from New York, New Jersey, and Washington D.C. One young woman was from Oman, and one was from Saudi Arabia.
And they were INTO IT. When I quizzed my classes later to find out which events from the list of 19 they had enjoyed the most, this event was often mentioned.
We linked the event to this year’s Campus Read, *Hidden Figures*, a book about the female African American Physicists and Mathematicians who were the underpinnings of the space program. We had chosen the book because two of these women had lived in our town. In fact, one of them had actually attended West Virginia University. We are very proud.
We thought that the subject matter of the book, daughters of Appalachia who used their talents to achieve great things, would link naturally to an event that celebrated Appalachian Women. And it did, and it was a huge success.
But I underestimated my students. Because I think they understood the importance of the event even more than I did. For many of the students who gathered together for the Women Speak event in Morgantown, it was a celebration not only of the diversity of our state and our region, but of the beautiful commonalities and truths that we all share.
Below are the last two video recordings of the live event; to see the first two visit: