Rising Above Adversity: Stories to Grow By(Roundtable)
John Maune (Hokusei Gakuen University)
Personal stories relating to a wide range of adverse issues will be presented in short readings of less than 10 minutes each. This session hopes to continue the lively and moving participation seen in the NeMLA 2015 roundtable Dealing with Academic Stress and Personal Crises (5.28). Possible topics could include harassment (academic, power, or sexual), mental or physical health, or personal loss, though topics outside this list, course, would be welcome. It benefits all when normally avoided or shunned issues are made public which can dispel ignorance and raise awareness. This is necessary if compassionate understanding is ever to be achieved. Problems that affect family members or colleagues, or any member of society for that matter, are important for us all to come to terms with. Issues do not need to be personally experienced to be poignant. One of the proposed benefits of literature itself is that it raises our emotive quotient; learning about problems we may never have ourselves, but might encounter in a friend or colleague. It is hoped that this workshop will do the same. This session could also benefit those who are somewhat insecure about admitting they have a problem, but might feel secure in a supportive social setting where it is possible to realize that no one is an island. Also, presenters can gain some power over their troubles by publicly confronting them and from the support of other members. Confronting a problem is the first step toward recovery, and indeed doing anything to deal with a problem, successful or not, greatly reduces stress. Done in a social situation, support groups, which this session emulates, are vastly more effective than solo undertakings.
This roundtable hopes to provide inspiration and guidance through personal narratives on lessons learned overcoming or coping with either life-long challenges or sudden life-altering issues. Possible topics could include, but are not limited to, academic or sexual harassment, mental or physical health, or personal loss. The goal is to present cathartic stories illustrating inextinguishable human qualities that will stimulate audience dialogue. Proposals should specify the nature of their challenge and insights gained while working through it.