by Emily Goodell
The Empathy Project, created last year by senior Bryce Bagley, is an audio storytelling project that seeks to facilitate empathy by sharing people’s unique stories.
Hoping to partner with Whitworth.FM., Bagley is asking students from all backgrounds to record their experiences and stories and share them with the Whitworth community.
“When there’s some group or culture or even just means of identifying a person that we’re prejudiced against, it’s because we’ve never actually encountered real people who are transgender or who are Muslim or atheist,” Bagley said.
It’s a lot harder for an individual to express hate toward a group of people when that individual is presented with a real person from that demographic Bagley said.
“By recording these interviews…we can encourage empathy, because you have a real person that’s attached to this idea,” Bagley said. “It’s not just an abstraction anymore. It’s a human being.”
The reason why Bagley chose to present stories in this way, was inspired by an audio storytelling class that Bagley took last Jan Term, where they listened to podcasts about people’s experiences in life.
“I use audio recordings because there’s so much about the emotion of the story that’s captured in a person’s voice,” Bagley said.
Bagley has interviewed five individuals so far, both people from Whitworth and people he knew before coming to Whitworth, Bagley said.
One of the impacts he hopes to have is people changing their perspective on certain minority groups or underrepresented cultures, Bagley said.
“By being open with people, you learn something about being human, regardless of who you’re being open with,” Bagley said. “My policy with the people I interview is that after I’m done interviewing them, they can ask me any question they want.”
One person Bagley interviewed is sophomore Kai Eder, who said that telling his life story was interesting, because having a third party to help him process through it helped him to see things he hadn’t before.
“It really made me think deeply about if I was the person who truly knew my own story the best,” Eder said.
Eder hopes his story will impact people and change people’s opinions on hard issues, he said.
“I think people will start being a little more mindful of the issues that transgender people or non-binary people have to deal with,” Eder said.
Bagley was impacted by Eder’s interview, he said.
“I had no idea experientially what it meant to be transgender until I talked to Kai,” Bagley said. “It completely opened my mind to what that means to live through that. To live through what it’s like to be a transgender person today.”
The implementation of the project has met with some issues. The people that have been helping with the project have either graduated or not had enough time to work on the project, including Bagley himself.
“I’ve had some setbacks… I can’t do all of it on my own and that’s definitely slowed me down a lot,” Bagley said. “But I really do want to get at least enough inertia set up before I leave that it doesn’t die.”
Bagley said that he hopes the stories will be available to listen to over Whitworth.FM., but has not yet heard back from the new director of Whitworth.FM.
Bagley’s ultimate goal is to create deeper levels of acceptance and tolerance, he said.
Contact Emily Goodell at firstname.lastname@example.org