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A Truly Valuable X Block: Dr. Fowlin

On Monday, January 8 in Waldo, Dr. Mykee Fowlin presented at Dana Hall as the X-Block speaker, discussing important topics of mental health, self-expression, and stories behind exterior impressions. His one-man show was framed by Langston Hughes’s poem “Still Here.”

A key idea explored during Dr. Fowlin’s talk was “pain is the secret ingredient by which the oyster creates its pearl.” This quote means a lot to Fowlin and is the second thing you see on his business card. Despite the X-block being held a few weeks ago, the messages he imparted to our community continue to touch many. Ilana Koppel ‘19, X-Block enthusiast, says that Dr. Fowlin’s “was by far [her] favorite x-block because everyone felt so included and could relate to at least one thing. The comfort and connection everyone felt is something that [she] took away.”

Unlike many speakers who convey their messages only through powerful words, Dr. Fowlin acted his out through a one man show, where he took on the role of four different characters with cliche profiles; for example, the star football player with straight A’s and the handicapped wheelchair kid, who is seen as a pity story because of his disabilities. In addition to using these characteristics, he added another layer to

Dr. Fowlin presents one of his characters, a football player with more depth than others know.

the character, behind the mask and stereotype, there is another story, which is the heart of his presentation. Behind the “handles on the tea cup” there is always the “temperature” –the true inside– that not many know about a person.

Mikayla Darville ‘21 agrees that this was her favorite X-Block speaker. “I think it was by far the most memorable X-block speaker that we’ve had,” she says even after the month’s time, “most people still remember the heart of his speech, but it’s a little blurry. The main message of his speech is in everybody’s head, which is still very important.” The X-block was so powerful to even the teachers, that they allowed their students to spend the class after the presentation to speak about the X-block, which is what Mikayla’s class did. Mikayla and her Skills 9 class even tried to write motivational letters to leave in books just like Fowlin does. While they were not allowed to in the end, they took other approaches to make others happy, and Mikayla finds herself smiling at people she has rarely spoken with before more and more since that Monday.

Fowlin presents over 300 shows per year and started speaking to audiences in 1995. Although there wasn’t a particular moment that started his path, his “own history of solitude and depression contributed to [him] wanting to help others.” Fowlin is all about acts of kindness toward others, because one never knows what impact a kind of deed could have on another. When he is on the receiving end of these acts, “it makes [him] feel certain that [he does] exist and that our connections toward one another are not happenstance.”

While he teaches a lot to his audiences, he also has moments of learning that touch him sincerely. He mentioned one incident, “ironically, it was at Dana Hall School where one of the students, in speaking with me, made a comment that was the one of the most profound statements that I have ever heard.  She said that she likes to go into buildings with automatic doors. I was confused at first, but then she explained it.  She said “when the doors open, I stop and say, ‘Wow, I really do exist.’  I think we all need to be reminded from time to time of this simple truth.”

His message stuck with Koppel and Darville so much, they were able to find a new meaning for themselves. Koppel learned “that you can be someone on the surface, but have a completely different substance within you. When I come to school I’m so different as when I act at home. Unless you’ve lived with me, you don’t know.” One thing that stuck out to Koppel was how skilled Dr. Fowlin was with his speaking skills, as for the first time during X-block, no one was spotted snoozing in the corner. “Whereas most x-block speakers come and talk at you, it was more interactive and his story was more powerful than the other ones,” says Mikayla.

While the X-block took place over a month ago, Fowlin’s words were not forgotten. Don’t forget the challenges he gave us to make someone else’s day. Make a difference without perhaps realizing you are. And if you wish to hear more from him, you can always email him at tessinbozard@mac.com.