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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 - Emily

Voices of Belonging
Voices of Belonging

"If we can all just interact with each other with empathy and understanding, regardless of it we maybe believe the same things."

My name is Emily Grobe. I just graduated in May from NIU with a BFA in visual communication, which is like graphic design. I'm working at Fargo skateboarding right now, which is right down the street on Lincoln highway, and I'm running a community venue. It's called the Fargo venue. And it's a place for art and music and people to do whatever they want. Basically, I originally came here, like when I started at NIU. I'm from Rockford. And I've just kind of really liked the community here, like on campus and also off campus. I really like it around here. I've seen a lot of movement in the community towards creating more inclusive spaces and creating, like more interplay between the university and the DeKalb community. And I think that that's really what inspires me.

I really hope that we can, you know, keep that going and really grow that connection, because I think it's a really valuable thing to have. To me, I would say, belonging means to feel as though you can be fully and authentically yourself without fear of rejection, or without the fear that people will, I guess, harshly judge you or make you feel like you're wrong, or weird. I feel like I belong anytime that I'm surrounded by people who are passionate and accepting. And I feel like you can find that in a lot of different places. For me, I found that when I was still a student at the university. I was working at this organization called Outdoor Adventures. And I got to help lead people on, you know, hiking, camping, rock climbing, all sorts of stuff like that, which is really cool. And I feel like that intersection between the outdoors and community building was really, really wonderful.

I think that there's a lot of factors that go into belonging, especially because there's so many different types of people. I think the wonderful thing about having the university here is that you get people from all over the place, and not just the Midwest. And so I think that if we can all just interact with each other with empathy and understanding, regardless of if we maybe believe the same things. You know, even just being open to listen to someone else's point of view, I think is really important. Doesn't mean that you have to agree with them. But just seeing where people are coming from and going into your interactions with other people with an open mind, I think really helps people feel accepted as they are in the moment. And so, I think we can all learn a lot from each other that way.

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