“Inspiring, motivational and powerful.” These are just some of the words to describe Michael “Mykee” Fowlin, who visited the campus on Saturday with his one-man act, “You Don’t Know Me Until You Know Me” to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy.
His powerful display of four fictional characters, who all exhibited stereotypical “masks,” immediately fascinated the students and faculty members as he revealed each of their true identities and the specific hardships each individual had to overcome. As he personified each of the four characters, he demonstrated the complex and intricate characteristics of these persons, further challenging the society’s conventional view: placing limits and stereotypes on persons based on appearances. After introducing his characters, Dr. Fowlin proceeded to share some of his own childhood experiences and some of his patients’ experiences as well. Dr. Fowlin shared his main idea through the touching story of a man who promised not to end his life if only one person smiled at him and his own painful experience with paternal abuse at home surprised the audience and enabled the audience to connect with him. He made clear to the audience that everyone wear masks to disguise their pains and scars but we must learn to celebrate those very differences.
Simply said, one slight gesture of smiling, greeting, and acknowledging the existence of one another is as influential and significant as any other action that can be made. His final analogy of an oyster was especially inspiring as he explained how the oyster endures unbearable pain to create a pearl and the value of the pearl is only significant when someone else receives it, not when the oyster keeps it. This analogy motivated the student body to also try to reveal his or her mask to share the experiences in order to create an inclusive community. After his one-man act, all the students broke into smaller groups to discuss Dr. Fowlin’s message about inclusion. His words proved to be powerful as some actually unmasked to share their own personal experiences that no one was cognizant of.
The underpinning ideas of Dr. Fowlin’s “You Don’t Know Me Until You Know Me” closely resembles the LC’s motto Ne Cede Malis and the self-sacrificing nature of our mascot, the Pelican. His one-man act was indeed a sensational way to begin Loomis Chaffee’s annual one-week celebration of MLK and to support the school’s mission to encourage Loomis Chaffee students to serve “the best self and the common good.”