On Wednesday, November 7th, BELLAS (Beautiful Empowering Ladies Leading All) held “Tales from the Homefront,” an hour-long event that focused on sharing stories from the IMSA community. The event is required for sophomores, but the auditorium was also scattered with juniors, seniors, and IMSA staff. At the beginning of the event, the BELLAs and storytellers marched on stage and performed a powerful series of rants, which focused on sharing the members’ personal experiences of being called offensive words such as “sweetie”, “ghetto”, and “ugly.”
After the rants, a series of stories submitted by the IMSA community, including past students, faculty members, and other members of the community, was read from behind a curtain so only the silhouette of the reader was visible. The stories read were:
“Rules”, which was about an eating disorder
“Students Like You”, which was about a teacher that treated minority students poorly
“Bad influence”, which was about depression and domestic violence
“Baseball Bat”, which was about trying to escape mental illness and issues at home through attending IMSA
“Statistics”, which was about the prevalence of sexual assault and rape at college campuses
“Rocky Transitions”, which was about racial prejudice at IMSA
“First Kiss”, which was about sexual assault and the importance of consent
Following the stories, the sophomores broke out into their navigation groups and discussed the event. During the breakout session, sophomores were encouraged to reflect on the event. Although some of the discussion groups didn’t have high levels of participation, many sophomores agreed on the importance of “Tales from the Homefront.”
- Sharanya Choudhury (’21) said that she thought one of the highlights of Tales was “the specific topics they talked about because a lot of people are desensitized to it. Especially with the rants on the words, I think it was good that we got a discussion about that and saw how people actually feel, and not in a joking sense. And the stories, it was really nice to hear those because those are topics people usually don’t want to talk about and even though at some points it was kind of surprising and it can be triggering to people, I feel like we still needed discussion about them.”
- Chandra Gangavarapu (’21) said she “was really surprised about how intense [the stories] were, but it opened [her] eyes to the fact that these things happened to people in our community so it made all the issues more real.”
- Derek Zhu (’21) commented that he believed Tales was important because “with IMSA, we live together so it’s important for us to understand each other and build a community where the network is really big and we can all talk to each other.”
- Karina Pulido (’20) shared that she thought “that reading a story was extremely important to show others that these are things that actually happen, even within the IMSA community”.
- Jayda Yancey (’19) performed a rant because “there’s a need to tell these stories, and they’re really important and it empowers the people who are courageous enough to even submit stories. Personally for me last year, I performed an original poem and this year with my rant it helped bring light to something that isn’t really seen as important anymore, for a word such as ‘ghetto’ that still has issues with how they stereotype and marginalize people that are called it often.”
- Shubha Verma (’19) shared what the event personally meant to her: “Tales from the Homefront is just a really powerful event about sharing issues within the IMSA community with each other and it really means a lot to me, and it’s honestly the reason I joined BELLAs as a junior.”
No matter the reason for attending, Tales had a clear message for all who attended: you aren’t alone in whatever you’re going through. There are resources available, from counselors to teachers, who are willing to listen to those who reach out.
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