By Christine van der Horst
— Whereas most AUC students find themselves completely isolated from all social events during this time of the year because of finals, a small group proved themselves to be a welcome exception to the rule on December 13th. Instead of spending their nights studying behind their laptops, these students attended a storytelling event in the dorms organized by AUC’s brand new Storytelling group. Consisting of five first-year storytelling enthusiasts, the project hopes to be an official committee soon. The Herring was present at the group’s first event and spoke to them in order to find out who they are and what their plans for the future look like.
First-year Humanities major Simone Stergioula is the driving force behind the creation of the Storytelling group. Ever since she was admitted to AUC she had planned on starting a storytelling committee: “Where I am from [Cyprus], storytelling is barely practiced,” Stergioula said. “So as soon as I arrived here I started talking to people about my idea, which is how this whole thing started,” she explained. Stergioula is the head of the group, but emphasizes that for this first event they did not stick to their positions. “When we get bigger and more professional, the positions will become more important,” she said, adding that for now the group members are “just basically doing everything together.”
The storytelling event took place in a common room on the second floor of the dorm building furthest from AUC, which on Thursday nights is used by Peer Support’s Living Room project. Therefore this common room was, unlike many others, clean and fully furnished. Accompanied by snacks and hot glühwein shots, about twenty students performed and enjoyed a diverse range of storytelling acts. The night included an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump, a tragic family story, and many passionate poems. “Storytelling can be anything,” Stergioula pointed out, “(…) and we want to take it into as many directions as it goes, see where it leads us,” she added.
The board was very satisfied with how the evening went. “There was such a good, comfortable vibe,” said Sam de Bruijn, a first-year Humanities major and PR manager of the Storytelling group. However, Eleonora Gelmetti, also a first-year Humanities major and Secretary of the Storytelling group, admitted that she had expected more people. “But of course there are finals, and the group size made it possible to have a nice interaction between the audience and the storyteller,” Gelmetti said.
Most students’ reactions were positive. “There were a lot of people (e.g. first-years and Humanities majors) that I [as a second year Science major] usually don’t see in daily life,” Merlijn Kesteren said. “And it was nice to see such a different side of those I already knew,” he added. To Manon Blanke, one of the many first-year Humanities majors that attended the event, it was the Storytelling group’s passion that made the night such a success. “In my opinion, they have definitely achieved their goal of creating a comfortable space where everybody can share their stories,” Blanke said.
It is important how the Storytelling committee will function alongside Penny Dreadful, an initiative that provides a platform for writers, poets, and storytellers, or the cultural center Mezrab, which hosts weekly storytelling nights popular among AUC students.
“I’m a volunteer at Mezrab and the founder is actually helping me to set this up,” Stergioula said. “So maybe there will be some interesting collaborations in the future,” she said. Gelmetti explains that Penny Dreadful has been advising them too: “We contacted them in the beginning of the semester, and they have been helping us ever since.” Although the new group’s ideas, which are mainly focused on the dorms, slightly differ from Penny Dreadful’s preference for festivals and events outside of the AUC bubble, Gelmetti is sure that this could also produce interesting results.
“We want to do many collaborations,” Gelmetti said. “We have plans to make a book together with the Art Board and perform on [sic] Scopophilia, for example,” she said. There are even plans to organize workshops by professional storytellers. “But first of all we, need to send in our request to become a committee,” de Bruijn stresses. “So stay tuned!”
This article features a photograph taken by Elizabeth Schippers and used here with her permission.