Last Thursday, January 29th, Manor College hosted Dr. Michael Fowlin. His presentation of “You Don’t Know Me Until You Know Me” consisted of characters from different stereotypes and the struggles they deal with on a daily basis. He covered issues such as race, discrimination, violence prevention, personal identity, suicide, gender equality, homophobia, and the emotional pain felt by special education children. His presentation blended together perfectly, and caused his audience to laugh and cry.
Through the duration of his performance, he acted out four relatable stereotypes. However, his act consisted of much more than that. Between personalities, he spoke words of wisdom, told stories, and shared his experiences. He discussed how grade school teachers affect stereotypes, and how much one smile could save a person’s life. These divulgences caused me to have epiphanies that I may have never reached without his presentation.
After one of his stories, the room was so silent that the ticking of a clock was thunderous. To understand the impact of that story, you should know that the room was full of at least 60 students, faculty, family and friends. Due to that fact, it’s obvious that his presentation left his audience completely speechless.
Cherie Crosby, Director of the Early Childhood Education Program, gave me some of her feedback on Michael Fowlin’s performance. “His presentation impacts how we view each other and interact with each other on a daily basis. It reminds us of the importance of exploring the bias that we have and move past them. It also reminds us of the importance of living ‘authentically’ and not living with masks.
His message about getting to know one another and truly making sure we take the time to get know one another was right on target for the audience. He reminded us of the importance of taking time in our day to simply smile and say hello to one another. Even better, he reminded us of the importance of making those human connections and realizing that each success and struggle we face impacts us all. We simply cannot thrive without these connections.” Ms. Crosby especially loved, “His ability to connect to the audience by not only providing “real life” examples that the audience can relate to as well as sharing his own struggles with difficult issues.”
If I had to sum up Michael Fowlin’s presentation in one word, it would be, “powerful”. The experience was eye-opening, thought provoking, and tear-wrenching. After his performance, his audience thanked him with tears in their eyes. I left with the desire to be a better person.