Sharing the Stage

by Mariko Chang, Honolulu Civil Beat

Mariko Chang

A few times a year, I have the pleasure of introducing a group of storytellers to a live audience. This event series, known as Hawaii Storytellers, puts community voices at center stage with individuals sharing true, first-person narratives. For eight to 10 minutes, our storytellers reveal raw, vulnerable stories about their personal experiences and life lessons that would have otherwise gone unheard.

Community events such as this are an extension of my work in a nonprofit newsroom, where I am surrounded by reporters who dedicate their lives to giving a voice to those who feel that they have none. It’s an incredible responsibility, and I’m fortunate to say that I get to live it every day.

Many times, we think leadership is a singular entity, but from my perspective, leadership is giving others a platform on which to stand—both literally and figuratively. It is acknowledging our positions of privilege, whether that is our seniority, network, education, race or gender and lifting others up when we have the chance.

I see these values in Echelon’s work, where it’s not about an individual person, but rather how a network of young professionals can support one another and strengthen the community as a whole. It’s through my volunteer work with Echelon that I hope to contribute to providing those in need with tools and opportunities that they might not otherwise have had access to—and seeing where they take this opportunity. In this sense, #doingthemostgood isn’t about “doing” much at all, but rather stepping aside and creating the space for others to thrive. I look forward to being a part of this story.

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