Stories from Home

We all have a story to tell

The IU family is hundreds of thousands strong. Each of us has a story but few have the opportunity to share it with an audience.

Stories from Home is a storytelling project that brings to light the powerful experiences and perspectives of students, faculty, staff, alum, and friends who call Indiana home. Through Stories, we hope to help Hoosiers cultivate a greater respect, understanding, and appreciation for one another.

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After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.

Philip Pullman, author

Recent stories

#7: Katie & Brandon

Description of the video:

We both were ushers at the Auditorium. And I started working as a student manager the second semester, and so did a good friend of yours, of both of ours, Elise.
Yeah, both you and Elise got hired before I did. I recall very well, I applied with you guys as well, and I really wanted the job. I remember coming through the Auditorium in high school when we went through student orientation.
Oh, really?
And I walked into that building and said, oh, I'm going to work here one day.
Oh, really? I didn't know that.
I was involved really heavily in high school. I always wanted to be on the tech side, though. I was the lighting guy.
Yeah, I remember that.
I sent an email when I was still in high school to, then, John Larkin, who was the house manager, and I was like-
Did you really?
I would like to work there. I want to work backstage.
What a go-getter.
And he said, "We're a union house. It's never going to happen."
Yeah, sorry.
"But you can volunteer if you want." So I had the awkward conversation. I called him, like,
can you give me some feedback on why?
And he said the committee felt that you cannot say no to someone.
I was like, well.
Let me show you how wrong you are.
That's awesome.
Yeah, I finally got hired then the second semester.
You're too friendly for this job. You need to be able to let down patrons when they ask for too much.
That's right. Turns out he probably wasn't wrong. I've become more jaded as I got older.
It's probably good, help you survive in this world.
That's right.
But I remember, the second semester, you applied again. And I was really glad, because at that point, we had met through Elise and had become friends, at least a little bit. And so I remember when you applied, and I think I was on your hiring committee. And as we were just remembering now, I believe you were- You had to interview sort of in the middle of a show.
Yes, I remember it was the performance of Mama Mia.
One of 14.
One of 14 easily. And I got called into this room, and it was a hospitality room, and it was totally dark,
and there were probably seven people lined up in a dark room because there was- You know, the Auditorium always had a fun culture. I think they were trying to mess with me, probably to see how I would deal under stress and if I could say no.
I remember that now. We were. We totally made it like overly intimidating just to see how you'd handle the situation. Oh my gosh, this is such a flashback of memory. And look where you are now. You've been at the Auditorium ever since then, right?
I have.
We were managers there through the rest of our experience. At one point, we were kind of running
the place for a semester or two.
We did. Our first event running the place, I recall, was the Dalai Lama.
Oh my gosh.
So, jump in feet-first, right?
We really did. It was also election year. And so like Hillary Clinton was coming through town.
And Chelsea Clinton came to talk. What a crazy year.
That was a busy semester.
It really was.
Honestly, that was the semester that I finally solidified that you were gonna take over the world. You were doing I-Core. You did business. You graduated, and as I predicted, went on your path to take over the world. And you lived in Costa Rica!
Well, after I left IU, I went to Boston for a few years. And I went to law school. After Boston, I spent a couple years sort of bouncing back and forth between the East Coast and Costa Rica because I had sort of discovered this really unique and special community on the Southern Caribbean coast and had started trying to make a lasting archive of the history of the people on that coast and how they created the communities and how that sort of informed ongoing land rights struggles. I would go for as long as  I could afford it. And I would do as much as I could afford to do. And then I'd go back to the United States and work some job. So at some point, I decided, you know, if I'm going to be working for free, trying to get this project going, I might as well be in Costa Rica so I can keep it moving, and close to the work. So at some point, I just moved there. I had already met my now-husband as well, and so we moved to the beach in Costa Rica.
I mean, let's stop for a second. What a fantasy story is that, right? Then you decide, let's go back to Bloomington and get a job with IU, which again I recall, you set that mission for you months ahead of it happening, and I did not move away after graduating like you did, and for a moment, I think that's hard. And I know I'm always very open to share that with people because-
I remember talking about that.
For those who want to stick around, I want to be really honest that it becomes difficult. When we're in school here, all of our friends are students. And they do what students are typically, I think, supposed to do. And they move away and do better things. But for someone like myself, who fell in love with this community and was happy with my job and got offered something I was passionate about and decided to stay, all of a sudden, all of my friends start moving away. And I find myself alone for a minute.
It took a moment to realize, well, my life's pretty great, too. I love New York. I love Chicago. I can't live there because I can't see the horizon.
#8: Cathy, Tarrey & Heather

Description of the video:

As we've been thinking about next steps for expanding The Project School, I have been thinking a lot about the first round of the process of developing schools, and taking something from scratch based on our own schema and our own area of expertise in the things that we believe so strongly and sort of what looks similar and different as we start the process, really digging in, of doing it a second time around.
Something that's really different as we come together to start those conversations is, for me anyway, my ability to be vulnerable and have some of the harder conversations is greater this time. When I think back to our first meeting, when I was invited to have this conversation with you all, I was really scared of you. I was very intimidated by your expertise and everything that I had to learn from the people at the table. And I spent hours researching things before I came in order to try to sound smart enough to be a part of this group of people that I admired so much. So, the admiration is still there, but coming into it feeling more comfortable with the people in the room is a big change for me.
Well, what's the same is the sense of urgency. I feel an urgency to take ten more steps, and I think we can't take ten more steps if we don't take one more step. I think there's a need for 100 Project Schools.
I think part of what is really compelling to me, as we have moved into these conversations, and as we feel more and more pressure for the conversation, is that when we began the process the first time, much of that was around a shifting landscape in our own professional experiences. For us to live our core beliefs, we had to do something different, We weren't existing in a structure where we could make those things come true. And so that was much of what compelled us. And then through that process, families found us. Right?
Families found us who felt that they needed us for whatever their reason was. Each year, I find lottery day just crushing. You know, as we end up with somewhere between 250 and 300 kids being left on the waiting list, we shift that process to have it be done more electronically two years ago. It was impossibly hard to look at the same names showing up on the waiting list over and over and over again and knowing that families who were beckoning for this weren't getting that opportunity.
Yeah, I think the first time around, I had that fear of, what if we create a school and no one shows up? And now the fear is driven by all of the families that we know need us and want us that we can't be there for them right now.
You know, we have been pretty public, I feel like, in this last year and a half. You know, we had a huge event in May of 2017 that looked at very much announcing that this was work that we intended to do, that expanding our work to a second site, to increase the number of kids and families and educators that we can serve with this work was made very public. But I think that we regularly hear of a sense of surprise from folks. And that is one of the challenges that we will continue to face. You know, in a community our size, when the argument nine years ago is that, if we take- And I'm using that word very intentionally even though it's not the way I perceive it. If we take students from a local traditional district, what risk does that put the local district in? And often it was stated things like small schools will be closed. And local districts will have fewer kids and as a result less funding. From my perspective, nine years later, no small schools closed. At least in the local district in which we sit. have more students currently enrolled than they did when we opened our doors in 2009. And in reality, while the per-pupil expenditure that comes from the state level follows the students who are being served, income such as property taxes and referendum dollars remain within the local district. So in a sense, in that way, those dollars allow for more expenditure per student than if the students we currently serve were in that district. And so these kind of ongoing conversations that can be challenging because there's actual data and information around it are so loaded with so much emotion. And I think it's important that the conversations that we have are also factual in nature and not just based on that passion. And so we knew what that felt like nine years ago, ten years ago. And so going into the possibility of expansion, knowing that feeling, is hard. It's a hard layer.
Our expansion is modest. It's a modest, realistic expansion that covers a waiting list we already have. We're not trying to start another school that has a thousand seats because we think we can do that. It's, we need to take care of kids who want to go here. That's what our expansion is about. That is what it is. And we also don't want to expand to something that we can't do well. So we're not gonna do that. So I think what we're hoping for is something modest, very realistic, very, and exactly what we said we would do all along. So hopefully those principles hold up and people see that and say, this makes sense.

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