Faith Culhane reading personal piece, "ASL"

Faith Culhane, 33, reads a personal piece to Open Heart Open Mic’s audience from her phone, titled “ASL" on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. The piece is about being in a position to teach a young girl empowering words through sign language that magnify her beauty and unique identity. 

"This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me — the simple news that nature told, with tender majesty. Her message is committed, to hands I cannot see; for love of her, sweet countrymen; judge tenderly of me!"

Megan Haught, teaching and engagement manager at the John C. Hitt Library at UCF, read a short piece by American poet Emily Dickinson to kick off the "Open Heart Open Mic" event Thursday, where UCF students had the opportunity to express themselves through personal writings or favorite works of art and literature.

Thursday’s installment of the UCF Libraries and the Women and Gender Studies Program's partnership event was the third and final session for the fall 2017 semester, following Sept. 28 and Oct. 19 sessions that drew many students to participate and share a variety of poems, songs and other presentations.

Haught said she hopes students get a chance to “flex their voice a little” by participating in the event, and “practice their work that they might be scared to share in other places."

Dwight Stewart II, 19, shared a personal piece of writing called “We Live in a World of Ideas” that he produced just the day before. A human communications major, he said he is a songwriter but wanted to try his hand at poetry and spoken word.

“When they say to be the change you want to see, to me, it means changing your own ideas about yourself and the world around you,” Stewart said in his piece. “What do your ideas say about you?”

First-year transfer student Anjel Chavera, 25, presented a deeply personal piece about her experience with #MeToo, a social media movement that kicked off on Twitter in response to the ongoing flow of highly publicized sexual misconduct allegations. The movement was started to show that everyday men and women have also been victimized by harassment or assault.

Chavera shared a similar piece in the October date of the session, and according to Haught, it brought many people together, both in support and in solidarity with other victims.

“Soon, everybody [started sharing] about their experience with #MeToo,” Haught said. “It became like a therapy session.”

Nodettti Viobon, a freshman engineering major, said she enjoyed coming out to listen to other students share their personal feelings and work.

“I found the amount of details very interesting,” Viobon, 18, said.

Other students who presented works included a vlogger, a singer and a novelist.

The event began in the fall of 2016 by Carrie Moran, then-librarian, who partnered with the Women and Gender Studies department. Haught said Moran was a poet herself and performed in many open mic events.

“I think she wanted to give students — that don’t get to go off campus for a lot of things — to be able to have a place to express themselves and share their work,” Haught said.

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