Many groups in Southwest Virginia are largely invisible in media and research, despite being integral to the fabric of our communities. A flipped symposium, "amplifying unheard voices," will bring together researchers, interested community members, and speakers to discover these voices and honor their local stories. The event is scheduled for Jan. 14 at 9 a.m. in Newman Library’s multipurpose room.

Speakers include:

  • Hannah Martin, LGBT military veteran, small-scale farmer, and potter.

  • Victoria Ferguson, Monacan Indian tribal elder and cultural steward.

  • Chris Alderman, recovering substance user and peer recovery advocate.

  • Hothaifa Abu Samra, Syrian refugee and community college student.

  • Julia Dinsmore, poet and poverty abolitionist.

This symposium is open to anyone and is meant to be a safe, accessible space for all.

“This event is meant to inspire and equip long-term collaboration between Virginia Tech and community groups,” said Nathaniel Porter, University Libraries’ social science data consultant  and data education coordinator. “During the event, attendees will have the chance to partner directly in community-based research through facilitated conversations. We hope that this sparks interest in social science research to bring to light these local stories and empower these communities.”

Martin, a Navy and Marine Corps veteran and event speaker, lives in Grayson County with her wife and infant son. “I live in a little tiny community in Southwest Virginia, and it’s really quite rural,” said Martin. “It has less than a thousand people, which is smaller than the first ship I was on board. I will talk about some of my reactions to that world. Yes, it’s my own history, but also the story arc of what it’s like being in this community.”

Ferguson, an enrolled member of the Monacan Indian Nation and event speaker, embraces the chance to tell her story. “Our voices have been silenced, so the opportunity to amplify our voices and have people think about the things we’ve gone through would be a great idea,” said Ferguson. “We’re saying ‘what’s going to help your program? What’s going to help your community and how can we help?’”

Those interested in attending should register and learn more.

The event is sponsored by University Libraries, Center for Humanities, and the Office for Inclusion and Diversity Advancing the Human Condition Symposium.