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Our community is engaged in an important effort to create a community of belonging. This exhibition illustrates belonging through the recorded, unrehearsed, personal stories of eleven, self-selected and local participants. They were asked to share their understandings and experiences of belonging.

Voices of Belonging - Brad

"Every community has it challenges… and the only way that we can tackle them or embrace them is to do it together."

My name is Brad Hoy. I originally grew up in Rockton, Illinois, but I was born in DeKalb. Then I came back to go to university here at NIU. I was here for four years, departed for six years, worked in the media business, first in Rochelle, and then later in Rockford, Illinois. And then I came back again, some six years later, and spent almost 30 years working at NIU. And I've lived in DeKalb community for about 27 or 28 of those years that I worked at NIU.

So, if we're talking about belonging, I certainly feel like Dekalb has embraced me from the time that I was very young, when I came here as a student, and lured me back when I was a young person working professionally. And I've made this a part of my community and my family's community for several decades. And I have no intention of leaving anytime soon. The concept of belonging, at least to me, is welcoming and embracing all cultures, you know, all walks of life, all individuals, I think that really embodies NIU. And I think this community reflects that.

We have our challenges. There's no doubt about that. Every community has its challenges. But this is also a community that I think is not afraid of tackling those challenges. And the only way that we can tackle them or embrace them is to do it together. I think that we've got a lot of positive momentum. I think the fact that we are talking about belonging and the fact that we have so many people involved in this is the right steps. And we need to continue to go along that path. And hopefully, we will get to a point where all of us belong, no matter where we come from, or no matter where we've been.

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