Cyrus Mahini, Kofi Asante and Khuyen Bui, the organizers of Voices on the Hill, pose for a photo on the hill of the President's Lawn on April 24. Ben Kim / The Tufts Daily

Voices of the Hill monologues to begin tonight

Editor’s Note: Khuyen Bui, a columnist at the Daily, is cited in this article. He was not involved in the production of the article.

Voices of the Hill student group will host “The Gap,” its first monologue event, this evening at 8 p.m. in Breed Memorial Hall. At the event, Tufts students will perform a series of monologues to share their stories and diverse experiences.

The group’s website prompts students to submit stories about experiences with “the gap,” which it defines as a kind of empty space in people’s lives or in the larger Tufts community. About 20 students will share their stories, both in named and anonymized formats, during the event according to senior Kofi Asante who was involved in creating the event.

According to Asante, Voices of the Hill was created because a group of seniors felt frustrated by a lack of communication in the Tufts community about important issues.

“We felt [that the Tufts community] is sort of an echo chamber, with people only conversing with people that agree with them and ignoring the others who don’t,” Asante said.

Senior Cyrus Mahini explained that the event was intended to amplify voices that are often unheard on campus and prompt discussions after the event.

“I think given the current political climate and the tendencies of this campus to isolate itself, we thought that this series of monologues could not only foster a discussion or dialogue about various issues through the lens of storytelling, but also add a variety of perspectives from Tufts students that tend not to be visible,” Mahini told the Daily in an email.

Khuyen Bui, another senior involved in the creation of the event, explained that the format is a series of orations with the main purpose of creating space for different voices to be heard. The website notes that submissions can range widely in length.

“My intention is for these monologues to be the first step into initiating more conversation in the future,” Bui said.

Asante explained that public sharing of monologues, rather than through an anonymous format, allows for attendees to match faces to experiences.

“Around 80 to 90 percent of the people are ready to go out there and talk,” Asante said. “But there is also an option for pieces to be read out anonymously.”

Asante said that submissions covered a range of topics, including many intimate ones about race, religion and sexuality. Students also submitted monologues on topics that were merely annoying or celebratory for them, which added levity, he said. He said that the goal was to choose monologues that were authentic and interesting, and that addressed topics that are not always discussed in everyday conversation.

“In the application process, we looked for stories with a unique perspective,” Asante said.

Asante said that those unique perspectives were not difficult to find because of the diverse nature of the Tufts community. He emphasized that, in an effort to preserve the honesty of the speaker, none of the monologues were edited.

Asante said that other monologue events at Tufts, such as It Happens Here and Mental Health Monologuesintentionally focus on specific sensitive topics, while Voices of the Hill gives writers free reign to discuss any kind of experience. Asante said he hoped the broad range of topics would open attendance to a wide audience of the community.

Voices of the Hill hopes to extend beyond the monologues that will be shared, Bui said. He added that, over the course of the year, the group plans to set up an online platform to stimulate further discussion on the topics discussed at the event. They also hope to host subsequent monologue events in the future.

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