Create Your Heroine Story:
Vassar College Reunion 2019

 Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. 
Norah Ephron

 In the summer of 2019 I designed an experimental workshop for Vassar College Reunion 2019 working with a Vassar Board member and Director of Alumnae Relations. We believed that we could make reunions more meaningful to alumnae by fostering community across classes and generations. We wondered how might we foster conversations across classes so that they might find a common truth about being a Vassar alumnae.

On Friday afternoon of the reunion ten to twelve alumnae and students gathered for the workshop at the Vassar Farm. The participants ranged in ages from 20 to about 70+. We used design and play theory stimulate the memories, imagination and trust.  Alumnae who had never met to co-created an environment where they could share stories, images, and truths.

We gave them time to create a "visual story" using the framework of the "Hero's Journey."  We asked participants to share a time in their life that they faced a challenge. They spent two hours generating and sharing stories. I asked them to make visual stories out of construction pager - Matisse inspired triptychs.

The specific assignment was to "share a story when you rebounded from a conflict in your life." I introduced the concept of the "Hero's Journey" so that they could understand the cycle. They were asked to depict their life before the conflict, their challenge, and how they rebounded. They "made" their stories visually in silence. And they asked to listen and share their stories - in pairs and then in the larger group. See the prompt slides.

People shared deeply personal stories. Several were moved people to tears. And the stories sparked dialogue about how they faced challenges in their lives and learn from one another.

We debriefed at the end of the workshop. The alumnae were struck by how well they were able to articulate their story, listen to others and reflect. Most importantly, they shared that they felt centered and ready to attend their reunion.  They had framed themselves as a hero or heroine and walked into their reunion feeling "grounded"and "connected."

The Heroine Stories & Principles
The Heroine Stories & Principles
Participants Reflections on the Process

Student volunteers appreciated hearing the stories of other generations.