One university, six words
Published: Friday, January 25, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 22:01
Everyone has a story.
During this generation, technological advances have provided the human population with opportunities to express their stories online, through blogs and social media sites. Larry Smith, founder and editor of SMITH Magazine, used the advantages this new-age technology provides and embarked on a quest to inspire creativity in ambitious writers.
Based off of Ernest Hemingway’s six-word novel, Smith’s central concept led to the creation of his Six-Word Memoir Project, which was launched back in 2006 in partnership with Twitter. The project asked the challenging question: “Can you tell your life story in six words?”
The online SMITH magazine developed the mission “to be a place for storytelling, with a focus on personal narrative.” Not only does the site allow users to tell their life story in six words, but it also focuses on memoirs about love, teens, dads, moms, happiness, work, resolutions, food and America. By signing up as a member for the site, users have the opportunity to share their memoirs online and, potentially, have them published in one of the SMITH books.
The site provides users with the ability to express their perspectives and feelings on certain aspects going on in their lives. For those who don’t want to just write out their six words, the site also allows users to upload memoir videos.
The concept behind the Six-Word Memoir project has been used by educators to indulge students in self-expression. Many schools have conducted their own memoir projects, and then published it on the magazine’s site for exposure.
A recent video submission by Vermont Academy of Saxton Rivers, VT, included six-word stories such as: “Tell me something I don’t know,” “Life keeps getting better and harder,” “Was born in the wrong decade,” “Adversity is unavoidable but not insurmountable,” and “Six words!? You’re kidding me, right?”
Those that have participated in the project have undoubtedly found it challenging. How is someone supposed to express their life story in only six words? But when you actually put enough thought into it, it’s surprising what you can come up with to tell your story.
In order to engage UNCW in the concept behind this project, I decided to tweak SMITH’s initial question. Instead, I asked students and professors, “How would you describe your experience here at UNCW in six words?” Many found it difficult to summarize their college experience in such a short word count, nevertheless they found the idea quite interesting.
Here is a sampling of what some of UNCW's most prominent students and faculty had to say:
Keith Fraser, Student Government Association president: “Leading, learning and loving the waves.”
Terrel Bryant, Tau Sigma National Honor Society president: “Deeply involved in strengthening students’ experiences.”
Kaitlin Willow, Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society president: “You’ll read my books one day.”
Vice Chancellor Pat Leonard: “Creating a community for student success.”
Everyone has a story, but everyone’s story is different in its own way. Just as SMITH Magazine asks its users, I too will propose the question: One life. Six words. What’s yours?