Stories for Good

Stories for Good Fall 2023 Flyer featuring Chantell MacFarland-Rodriguez

Stories for Good 2023: Connecting Through Music

Presented by the Berkshire Community College (BCC) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council

Friday, Oct. 6, 2023
Berkshire Community College

Stories for Good is an annual event held on BCC's main campus the Friday before Indigenous Peoples Day. The event aims to highlight diversity on campus and celebrate the ways in which our diversity makes us stronger.

By coming together, we can build connections through stories that explore, celebrate, and analyze our different identities, and consider what it means to support each other in a diverse community.

This event is free and we welcome participation by students, faculty, staff and the general public.

BCC is committed to providing universal access to all of our events. Please contact Nell McCabe at by Monday, Oct. 2 to request disability accommodations.

Oct. 9, 2023: Event Schedule

Keynote Address
9 a.m.
Hawthorne-Melville Connector

Chantell McFarland-Rodriguez

Breakout Session I
10 a.m.

Songs that Transport: Making a Connections Mixtape

Matthew Martin

Hawthorne 201

Growing a Family Through Adoption

Amanda Meier

Hawthorne 202
Breakout Session II
11 a.m.

Centering the Real Meaning of "U" in Understanding 

Celia Norcross

Hawthorne 201

Growing up with Howie: Lessons on the Importance of Inclusion and Equity

Laurie Gordy

Hawthorne 202
Live Muscial Performance
12 p.m.
Koussevitzky 111
Chantell McFarland-Rodriguez

Lunch available at 1 p.m. in the Hawthorne-Melville Connector

  • 2023 Breakout Session Descriptions

    Breakout Session I

    Songs that Transport: Making a Connections Mixtape — H201 || Matthew Martin — Music has the power to transport us across time and space, but becomes even more powerful when we share our experiences of songs with one another. In this session, we will create a collective "mixtape" of songs that have helped us to feel connected, both inwardly to a sense of home and self, and outwardly to styles, sounds, and cultures that helped to expand our sense of the world and new possibilities. Our goal is not only to uncover fresh tracks to explore but also to discover the stories that unite us across our unique backgrounds and differences.

    Growing a Family Through Adoption — H202 || Amanda Meier — My parents did it, why can't I? Ten years ago I started on the path to actively achieve motherhood, in September 2023 the legal system agreed to allow me to legally be a mother. Becoming birth parents can happen through fertility assistance, weeks to months of well thought through plans, meticulously kept calendars, wishful thinking, or accidently--but only if biology bingo occurs. My biology bingo card was a dud so I sought parenthood like my parents: through adoption. In hearing my story may you see my dream fulfilled, feel my joy, my hope, and perhaps see your hopes and dreams.

    Breakout Session II

    Centering the Real Meaning of "U" in Understanding — H201 || Celia Norcross — Making a powerful impact begins with understanding of another. How we center our frame of thinking takes work and dedication but can be the root of success for both parties when the what I want changes to what You need. Discuss ways of looking into what it takes to recenter thinking on decision making to support the best result without hindering the meaning, essential functions and positive results. 

    Growing up with Howie: Lessons on the Importance of Inclusion and Equity — H202 || Laurie Gordy — Stories of exclusion often provide a powerful way to appreciate the benefits of inclusion and equity.  In this session, I will share my experiences of growing up with a brother who was neurodivergent and the lessons he taught me about stigma, access to social institutions, belonging and connection, and a supportive environment.  Reflecting on this story can inspire all of us to reflect upon the role of individual stories to inform our diverse society. 

Past Events

  • Stories for Good 2022: Celebrating Cuisine and Culture

    Friday, Oct. 7, 2022

    In her keynote speech, local chef Sabrina Tan will talk about bringing the food and flavors of Malaysia to Pittsfield, Massachusetts where she ran the popular Flavours of Malaysia restaurant on McKay Street for fifteen years. Her story begins in Penang, Malaysia where she recalls being shooed out of her mother's bustling kitchen. In 1989, she moved to the United States only to be wildly disappointed by what passed for Asian cuisine and set about learning to cook the authentic food of her homeland.

    Watch the demonstration via Facebook

    Stories For Good

    Growing Up Different in the South: Learning How to Overcome Bias

    Erin Lynn

    Come listen to an autobiographical story about the struggles of developing a social identity in the rural south and my journey through disengagement and derealization. Sharing these experiences will hopefully help others better understand our unconscious biases and the ways in which these biases can make us feel emotionally detached from our own surroundings.

    Story Circle: Our Memories of Food

    Judith Monachina

    We all have memories of food. Our stories are unique to us because they are our own experiences. They may reflect the influence of a larger culture, place, and time, but they are our personal experiences. These stories connect us — simply because we can understand that we all have them —  and, at the same time, they reflect the unique nature of the experience of an individual life. In this story circle — which will be set up as a circle — members will be invited to share memories of meals, tastes, events, particular foods, and meanings that foods have had or have in their lives. It will be a casual discussion, moderated to make sure we all get a chance to talk and listen.

    Insights and Cooking Session with Northern Thailand-born Pathumma Bowen

    Lauren Chagnon and Pathumma Bowen

    Open your minds and hearts in this cooking demonstration and conversation showcasing the loving flow of Pathumma"s energy and insights as it permeates her cooking space. Pathumma"s history with the developing parts of northern Thailand and integrating in the United States will give people a diverse experience with someone who holds very strong spiritual beliefs and magic when it comes to life and food.

    Brazil, Costa Rica and the Berkshires Mixed Together

    Lorena Souza, Mari Dus, and Sarah Blizzard

    Berkshire Community College serves students from around the globe. As we work toward a more inclusive community, we find it more important than ever to connect with one another about our similarities and differences. In this presentation, we aim to demonstrate at least one way in which we can share some unique aspects of our own cultures, Brazil and Costa Rica, and how we seek to build a community that values multiculturalism here at BCC. Through a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, and English, we explore the importance of sharing our own identities with others and inviting them to share their identities with us. One of the ways we have felt supported in sharing our cultures is through the MADE Center/Multicultural Student Organization, and we hope more students will join us in celebrating what we all have in common: we are all different.

    Eating in the First Person: A Writing Workshop

    Liesl Schwabe

    In this nonfiction writing workshop, participants will craft original personal narratives, spun from food memories, family traditions, favorite recipes, and other moments of cooking, eating, or chopping garlic. We'll explore the use of first-person narrative, sensory description, and social context in telling brief but vivid stories.

    Dining in the Dark: Experience Conferencing and Dining in the Dark

    Alicia Starsja, Jessica Twing and Berkshire Benevolent Association for the Blind representative

    Have you ever wondered what it is like to be visually impaired or blind? While the visually impaired and blind may not have their own specific cuisine, they still need to eat too. Learn what it is like to eat and have conversations without utilizing your most dominant sense of sight. This session will provide participants with a hands-on, experiential learning opportunity to see (or not to SEE) what it would be like, to be at a conference, and eat as if they were visually impaired or blind.

    Food as Cultural Heritage

    Aaron Oster and Tattiya Maruco

    Join us for a conversation with BCC's new Food, Culture and Local Economy Program Manager, Aaron Oster (A-OK BBQ, Echo and Rig, Il Buco Alimentari) as we discuss the relationship between food, connection, and our personal and collective past, present, and future.

    Closing Session: Live Cooking Demonstration

    Join us for a live cooking demonstration as Sabrina Tan prepares curry chicken and potatoes with nasi lemak (coconut rice) followed by questions and answers, and samples of curry and nasi lemak.

    Often described as spicy and flavorful, Malay food utilizes a heady concoction of spices, herbs, and ingredients native to Malaysia, such as sera (lemongrass), curry leaf plant (fragrant leaves that gives curry its flavor), pandan (screwpine) leaves, and kaffir lime leaves. Fresh herbs and seasonings are also often used to create enchanted tastes and flavors. A combination of fresh seasonings and dried spices are normally ground together to make fine paste which is cooked in oil. Fresh coconut is also a common ingredient found in most popular dishes such as curry, nasi lemak (coconut rice) and rendang.

  • Stories for Good 2021: Diversity in Our Community

    Friday, Oct. 8, 2021

    Keynote Address

    In the keynote speech, Boxxa Vine will talk about being a drag queen, the nuances and challenges of creating events specifically for LGBTQ+ performers, and the importance of different styles of drag. Drag and performance art will be discussed not only as a means to help others express themselves freely, but also as a way to create and foster diversity, equality, and inclusion.

    Boxxa Vine and Daryl Shreve at the Stories for Good 2021 keynote session

    Remote learning: Stories of Accessibility for Students with Disabilities

    Julia Kalinowsky, Alicia Starja, Sinaia Smith, and Pam Farron

    The shift to online learning during COVID-19 heighted our awareness of how learning modalities impact student success. Online learning particularly impacted students who have disabilities, removing barriers to accessibility for some, while at the same time creating additional barriers for others. This session will allow students and staff to share their stories and coping strategies, explore best practices, and envision how our "new normal" hybrid learning may yet become more inclusive.

    Trans 101: Identity, Misgendering, and Pronouns

    Drew Herzig

    The session, using a PowerPoint presentation, will cover the differences between sex and gender, and between gender identity and gender expression. The definitions of transgender and cisgender will be given, and the evolution of "trans" — from transvestite to transsexual to transgender to trans*. The struggle with gender dysphoria, the possible use of puberty blockers, the efforts to establish a public identity, and the role of pronouns will be discussed.

    Beyond the Board: Skateboarding, Schools, and Society

    Tattiya Maruco

    Skateboarding is widely popular in US society, yet the narrative of what it means to be a skater remains narrow. This session will share findings from a line of research that centers skaters and the unique knowledge, skills, and strategies that come from skateboarding. There will be dedicated time to share our own stories as well.

    Deconstructing Whiteness in a Moment of Crisis: Lessons Learned from Teaching Critical Whiteness Studies at BCC

    Charles Park

    This session will discuss HON 298K: Deconstructing Whiteness in US, which was taught for the first time in spring 2021, and the reactions by students. As an honors class, the student came in highly motivated and curious, and were willing to share their individual stories and the insights they gathered throughout the semester. This session will share the reading list from the course, as well as students' anonymized reactions and observations. This session will talk about how much our students want to talk about this topic, and how it can be infused into a broader BCC curriculum.

    Queer Erasure: The Dismissal of Non-Binary, Asexual and Bisexual Identities

    Darwin MacDonald

    An exploration of gatekeeping within and without the LGBT community, for the sake of cis heteronormative comfort. A combination of personal stories, second hand anecdotes, figure and statistics, and historical data revealing erasure of queer marginalized individuals.

    Looking Inside Your Cultural Chest - To Find Your Heart

    Celia Norcross

    This session will explore identities from a framework of what cultural experiences have made us who we are today. This sharing of my story coupled with ways we look at objects in our "cultural chest" allow us to explore a deeper meaning of each other and what may lie in our hearts. Information on Identity Theories and shared experiences will be introduced and explored in this session. Come ready to listen, learn and share through the power of your story.

    Closing Session

    Q&A panel with Boxxa Vine, fellow drag queens Angel South and Noelle Diamond, and drag king Fausto, followed by a drag show with Boxxa Vine, Angel South and Noelle Diamond.



    Boxxa Vine


    Noelle Diamond


    Angel South



    Learn more about the BCC Queer Student Association