June 20, 2019

By MATT LINSEMENML_HumanBook

The Student Life Centre is holding a Human Library in the Library Resource Centre on Feb. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Human Library is a chance to borrow a human “book,” have a one-on-one conversation with the person and learn from his or her personal story. It’s all about breaking down stereotypes and challenging assumptions, and it’s a chance for students to get to know someone in their local community.

Students can meet people who are experiencing different things, learn more about them and possibly even share similar experiences.

“We’ve moved the event up a little closer in the semester than we have previously,” said Laura Black, Student Life programmer for community initiatives. “The reason being is that we want to give students a chance to create those relationships and connections earlier and build on them throughout the semester. The earlier the better and that way the respect that you’ve created and the values you’ve gained will help you learn and benefit you in the future.”

Megan Pries, a design foundations student, hasn’t been to a Human Library event before but said she’s been to a leadership conference which offers the same opportunities to get to know people one-on-one in different ways.

“I went barely knowing anyone and met so many amazing people that I’m incredibly close with to this day,” said Pries. “The first day was all about leadership and what that looks like. As a first-time attendee, I was not expecting what came the second day (in the best way possible). The second day was all about breaking down walls, standing in our truth and coming together as leaders. It was a really emotional day for myself and many others, but it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. To have an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals through such an intimate experience was so important for me and will be absolutely unforgettable.”

The Human Library gives students a chance to openly ask questions in a safe environment.

Some stories being told this year include a female illusionist’s story, surviving sexual assault, dealing with addictions, travelling the world, surviving domestic violence and identity recognition.
These people gather to share their stories and expect very challenging questions, some of which may even come across as offensive. It’s important to tell these stories because there’s a certain stigma when it comes to certain topics. The event aims to break down those stigmas and tries to get them out in the open.

“Their courage to share their stories is amazing and it’s such a valuable opportunity to take part in a Human Library,” said Black. “You don’t get this every day. Their experiences, their challenges, the barriers that they face and how they’ve overcome them tell a story that’s worth sharing.”

Black said for some human books, this is the first time they’re sharing their stories and some haven’t even shared it with people close to them.

Everyone goes through something and it is important to remind students of this. You can’t judge a book by its cover because everyone has a story and it’s important to share it so that we can all learn from each other.

Students can reserve human books ahead of the event by contacting Student Life or by emailing Laura Black at lblack@conestogac.on.ca. Walk-ins are also welcome during the event.

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