The Human Library is an interactive attempt to challenge prejudice by facilitating a conversation between “books” and “readers.” Books are volunteers who have either been subjected to discrimination or represent groups or individuals within society that are at risk of experiencing stereotypes, stigma or prejudice. This year, “books” were students, faculty and staff volunteers from NOVA’s Alexandria Campus. The books gave readers permission to enter into a rich dialogue with them, in the hope that their perspectives and experiences would have a positive effect on the attitudes and behaviors of a wider society.
Over 120 “readers” checked out 21 available human “books” represented by NOVA staff and student volunteers from all walks of life. Some of the book titles included “Black Lives Matter,” “The Dilemmas of an Undocumented Immigrant,” “Hatred vs. Reason,” “Mixed Signals” and “No Longer Being a Victim.”
“It was an incredible experience getting to interact so intimately with so many students,” said NOVA alumni and human book Remaz Abdelgader, whose book was titled, “Asylum,” a narrative of political asylum, Islamophobia and activism. “Some cried as I shared my story, others drew inspiration.”
The program was a campus-wide collaborative effort and was co-chaired by two Learning and Technology Resources colleagues, Patricia Cooper and Katie Hoskins.
Started in 2000 by a Danish youth-based nonprofit “Stop the Violence,” the Human Library Project aims to establish a safe conversational space to help people form a better understanding of those with whom they share their community. Glendale Community College, Lone Star College and Erie Community College have also hosted Human Library events.