Gainesville company Self Narrate will host Story Slam: Everything Changes in Keene-Flint Hall, Room 50, today from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The free event is open to the public and features six speakers from the Gainesville community who will share life lessons they have learned.
According to the organization’s website, Self Narrate’s mission is to encourage people to tell stories and to use storytelling to create connections and solve problems.
“Our goal as a company is to create spaces that help people learn what their own stories are and how to share those stories with others,” said Brandon Telg, a co-founder of Self Narrate and the facilitator and director of client services.
The stories from Story Slam will range in topic from transformation, tragedy, love, college, empowerment and more.
“I don’t use the phrase ‘life-changing’ lightly,” Telg said. “But that is exactly what this night is going to be for the people who attend.”
Among the speakers at Story Slam, three of them are former TEDxUF speakers. Jennifer Aponte, a former attorney from Puerto Rico, is one of those speakers.
“I’m thankful for my experience with TEDxUF,” Aponte said. “It taught me how important it is to share my story with others.”
Aponte has been living with disability all her life, beginning with her childhood diagnosis of spina bifida, which left her wheelchair-bound. Her time at Story Slam will be spent sharing the losses and successes she has dealt with as a result of her disabilities.
“Everyone is going to encounter bad situations in life,” Aponte said. “But there are always ways to make them better.”
Society’s attachment to technology is another reason Aponte said she hopes people will attend Story Slam, so they can hear impactful stories for themselves.
“Storytelling brings us closer together as human beings,” Aponte said. “Story Slam is a great place to foster the kind of connections that can help people overcome their own problems while also gaining empathy for the problems of others.”
Jaron Jones, the other co-founder of Self Narrate and the opening speaker at Story Slam, will also touch upon the importance of using stories to unify people.
“We all have similar wants and needs, and I think people will be surprised to find that we all have similar difficulties as well,” Jones said.
Jones said his story is lighter than some of the others because it is meant to draw the audience into the event.
“I don’t want to give too much away,” Jones said. “But I’m going to focus on how a singular moment can cause a big change.”
Self Narrate’s goal is to continue to host at least one Story Slam event each academic year. The last event was held during Fall 2014, Telg said.
“These are stories that a lot of people really need to hear,” Jones said. “Our hope is that by bringing strangers together to hear these stories, they realize they are not alone and that they will not be strangers by the end of the night.”