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NYU SPS Community Spotlight – PALA’s Darius Phelps on Intersectionality & Breaking Barriers Through Storytelling: “There is Strength in Solidarity and Vulnerability”

Updated: Apr 16

How can we use storytelling to overcome imposter syndrome? Storytelling allows us to demonstrate our authenticity and resilience. The concept of imposter syndrome refers to not feeling as capable as people think you are. According to recent research, it has become more widespread, with up to 80% of people reporting that they have experienced imposter feelings.

These feelings might appear in professional or academic environments, and according to Darius Phelps, Assistant Director of Programs at the School of Professional Studies at NYU, many students struggle with underlying issues such as anxiety, grief, low self-esteem, and imposter syndrome. “Some students, especially those from BIPOC backgrounds, may have never felt comfortable sharing their stories openly without fear of judgment or a sense of not belonging,” Phelps reflected.

This is one of the reasons why the Center for Publishing and Applied Liberal Arts at SPS (PALA) organized a special keynote event on March 27th where guest speakers explored imposter syndrome, intersectionality, and borders through storytelling. “This theme is extremely important across all our disciplines because you never know what someone is going through behind closed doors,” Phelps added. 

The panel consisted of three writers, poets, and translators Kyle Liang, R.A. Villanueva, and Tiffany Troy, who spoke on how poetry has been a form of true expression, excavation, and liberation for them as they found their respective voices. “The main takeaway from our discussion was that there is true strength in solidarity and vulnerability,” Phelps explained.

Events like this one are key to building empowerment and fostering inclusivity within the NYU SPS community: “There is immense power in sharing our authentic truths and learning from one another because by doing this, we can open up and emphasize that we are truly all in this together.”

To keep the conversation going, the Center for Publishing and Applied Liberal Arts will organize a next session on Fostering Brave Spaces to Find & Utilize Our Voices. This event will take place on Tuesday, April 16, from 12 to 1 pm via Zoom. In this conversation, Darius Phelps and Dr. Marcelle Mentor will discuss how to foster brave spaces in online classrooms.

“Storytelling is one of the most powerful vehicles for communication across cultures – allowing us to arrive at a shared human experience,” said Professor Raúl Sánchez, Director of the NYU SPS Intersectionality Lab, “We are thrilled to be able to spotlight meaningful events like this in the I-Lab portal and look forward to collaborating with PALA on an event on ‘intersectional inclusion’ in online and in-person learning spaces in the Fall of 2024.”

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