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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 - Qwayland

"Feeling at home, like feeling a part of something. Just knowing that you’re wanted."

My name is Qwayland and I'm a theater major here at NIU. I'm from Chicago the Southside. What brought me out here to Dekalb was the school accepted me. Because when I first applied to college, like, I was a smart student, my grades were everything, like they were always up to par. But it was just a testing for me. So, I scored really low on the ACT. And a lot of schools, they didn't make me many offers. And it was a couple, but then I was gonna be in debt if I went there.

So NIU, they accepted me through the CHANCE program, which is a program for students that don't score high on that test. Yeah, they they offered me money and the chance to go here. Having the sense of belonging, I will say, is feeling at home, feeling a part of something, just knowing that you're wanted. My goal is to become an actor. With this school’s acting program everyone is like so connected and everything. And the diversity too, is what I found out because growing up in Chicago, I realized how much like it is segregated like in different neighborhoods and everything. But in DeKalb it's like a community, like you see a little bit of everyone.

Being in a theater program, you feel like you belong there because it's like no wrong answers. If you have something to say or you got a problem, you can address it. And we handle problems like on the spot, we have a problem with like another active member or anything, because we're family. So, we we don't want to just leave angry at each other and just let that build up. We'd like to handle things on the spot.

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