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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 - Jourdan

"The head coach… that’s my safe place. She’s been through what I’ve been through… we want to see that representation."

I'm originally from San Antonio, Texas. I actually graduated from NIU in 2017. And this is my first year. Now I'm on part of the track and field coaching staff. When it comes to seeing the representation, the head coach, Connie Teaberry, that's my safe place. She's been through what I've been through, she's older, so she has that experience, and you just feel safe.

And then a lot of people in the black community, we want to see that representation. And then when you see a strong black woman here, doing that, it... you just feel comfortable. You see it and you see it could be done. And that just gives you that little extra motivation that you didn't even know you needed. I just came from a city and it was the smallest town I've ever lived in. Populations, probably 2000 people and majority of that is who's on campus. And this past year was my hardest year not seeing that representation again.

So, when you drive around town, you have people have the pro Trump the not pro Trump. And it doesn't bother me whichever one that you're for, but they were really disrespectful about it, just walked down the street fingers pointed at you. Getting flicked off getting cursed, that I've been stepped on. I mean, I'm just minding my business type of thing. So that was my biggest thing. In those situations, my safe place is when we get back on campus where I know people are in the same situation. So it's usually going back to campus. If I didn't feel safe in the neighborhood, on campus I know I feel safe.

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