InFocus: Michael Fowlin

Mike Michalski, News Editor

Speaker Michael Fowlin gave a total of five presentations in the Grand Haven area between Dec. 12 and 13. At the high school he gave two, one to freshmen and sophomores, the other to juniors and seniors. After his last presentation a crowd gathered to speak with Fowlin one on one. His stage was torn down and by the time the gym was set up for a varsity basketball game later that night, he was still sharing stories and giving advice to these students. The Bucs’ Blade had a chance to sit down with Fowlin and find out more about the man who has the power to move a school.

Q: When did you start going to schools and talking to kids?

A: Probably full time wise around 1998.

 

Q: How did you know that this was the job for you?

A: I knew that part of what really made me sad as part of my high school years was feeling the aloneness and feeling like a lot of the adults that were in my life were not connected to my experience. In high school I promised myself that I’d give back and so I started speaking and I always loved acting so being on stage was my passion and psychology combining with that were my two passions and for me the people that the most influential were the ones that could make me laugh and could make me cry. So I realized that it’s a gift to be able to allow people to open up enough that it’s easy to make people laugh but it’s harder to make them accept to be vulnerable and to open up them in away where they feel safe to be vulnerable. Once I started creating characters and doing that I said ‘this makes sense’ and students seeing it too they were like, ‘you have to come to our school’ and it was their wording that really helped.

 

Q: What do you want to accomplish when you come and speak to schools?

A: Number one for people to feel a little bit less alone. The larger part is that people feel they have somewhere now or someone else they can go to or talk about it. The thing is that most of us go through stuff and it’s hard then to figure out what do we do with that stuff. Nobody can leave here and pretend that they didn’t experience this on some level. That’s the part that I want to get through to people that ‘it’s okay you’re not alone, you have more to give.’

 

Q: What inspired you to get through your hard times?

A: A lot of great musicians and films, speakers too, but a lot of great musicians that really connected to me, lyrics that just made sense to my whole life. Once I started realizing that the thing I love about music the most is when I can listen to a song and I feel like that person penned my life, the healing parts that just took place and realizing that other people went through this or realize that it helped. Also, my youth group, for me growing up with my youth group and my youth pastor and being a part of that. We were a bunch of misfits and weirdoes, and that helped me just feel better.

 

Q: Top three music groups:

A: I don’t know about a top three, but I can tell you the ones that really help. “Bright Eyes,” “Ani DiFranco,” was another and “Bob Dylan.”

 

Q: Is there any kind of tradition you do when you travel?

A: I love to watch movies. I go see tons of movies, I’ll see anything from independent films to mainstream films but I love seeing a lot of movies. That’s one of the things I do pretty consistently when I travel and going to see live music like acoustic music I like to do that too.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?

A: Know that it doesn’t stop after this assembly. The only way this message continues is when the next step is not taken by the administrators but it’s really taken by the students themselves. Maybe putting out a call out for students to gather together to brainstorm what they think needs to be done next.