The Human Library Project at Fairfield – Nov 9-10
“Never judge a book by its cover” is a phrase often used to teach us that things aren’t always what they seem. This concept will come to life, literally, with the Human Library Project coming to campus on November 9 and 10 at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library.
The Human Library is an international movement that started in Denmark in 2000 and has since made its way to over 30 countries. Designed to create dialogue and understanding between people, the project is structured where people volunteer as human ‘books’ and participants in the event can ‘read’ the book - meaning they have a one-on-one conversation with the 'human book' and share in a dialogue about that individual’s experience.
The project is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue. ‘Books’ will be Fairfield students, faculty and staff from different backgrounds who have volunteered to share their experiences centered around topics such as discrimination based on race, religion, sexual preference, class, gender identity, lifestyle choices, disability and other aspects of their life.
“I feel privileged to work with our ‘human books’ to help bring out their unique stories,” said Jackie Kremer, Head of Library Academic Partnerships and Assessment. “I’ve been moved by them and I invite our entire campus community to these one-on-one conversations for what we hope will be a transformative experience.”
A few student ‘books’ explain why they’re participating in the event and what they hope people will learn from their story:
Margaret Moore ’19
“My dream is to promote disability awareness and to teach individuals of all abilities that they can overcome obstacles to achieve seemingly impossible dreams. I hope people learn that they really can achieve anything that they set their minds to.”
Jeongmin Lee ’20
“My college experience in Korea is different than the American experience. I can tell you about my visits to many Asian countries such as China, Singapore and Indonesia. I hope people will understand the dynamic situation in Asia (especially in East Asia). I would like to help eliminate prejudice about those areas.”
Emily Gaudet ’18
“I decided to become a book because after going through all the stages of having my heart broken in a unique and awful way, I felt that sharing my story with other people has helped me see the positive side of what happened. I also want to help other women and men know that there is life after heartbreak. TV shows and movies show people breaking down after being broken up with, but then they find ‘the one.’ I'm here to say it's okay to break up and find peace with yourself before finding or even looking for ‘the one.’ I hope people learn that it is okay to be alone and it can be empowering.”
Elizabeth Guerrero ’17
“I feel that communication is important nowadays, especially in a society that is so fast paced. If we took the time to understand one another, maybe we can realize that we all have our own story/experiences that help define who we are. I hope people will come to understand that what they see at first glance is not always what you get. There's always more to someone than their looks, especially any preconceived notions we may hold.”
Sosender Madas ’16
“I would like to express my feelings around the challenges I faced traveling a long distance to finally land at Fairfield University and hope people will learn from my experience as an international student.”
Riley Barrett ’17
“I decided to be a book because there is a stereotype that young people are apathetic and undereducated about politics. I'm hoping that people will use my story to learn about political activism within the millennial generation and what it means to be a student leader.”
Muslim and Immigrant
Amira Ebrahim ’20
“I wanted to do something to have at least one person get a better understanding of a life and perspective that is different from their own. I hope any misconceptions will be broken and any questions that are stuck in the air be concretely answered, and most importantly, any desire to understand more about Islam, or living as an immigrant, be satisfied.”
Christina Boalt ’18
“I decided to be a book to share my life story and show others that there are many different reasons for why people choose to refrain from the college party culture. I hope that people learn to be more accepting and understanding of others’ choices without being judgmental.”
This two-day event is not to be missed. “Our readers are in for a real treat as we have a fantastic selection of books,” shared Barbara Ghilardi, Reference and Instruction Librarian. “I think this event is going to be a great way for people from all different areas of campus to come together and learn from each other while having great conversations.”
Come check out a ‘book’ on Wednesday, November 9 from 2-5 p.m. or Thursday, November 10 from 5-8 p.m. at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library. Books will be on loan on a first come, first served basis and conversations will last about 20 minutes. For more information about the Human Library project at Fairfield visit fairfield.edu/humanlibrary, or for more information about the international project, visit humanlibrary.org.
The Fairfield University 2016 Human Library is co-sponsored by the DiMenna-Nyselius Library, the Office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, the Center for Faith and Public Life, Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Marketing and Communications.