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In order to challenge people’s stereotypes, preconceptions, and prejudices, Crandall University students from Dr. Wendy Bokhorst-Heng’s ‘Diversity and Multiculturalism in Education’ course hosted a Human Library on October 25.
A Human Library is a way for people to connect with individuals in their community that they might not normally engage with. The ‘books’ are individuals representing different social groups that are often confronted with stereotypes and prejudices in society. Students and members of the community volunteer to participate as books who “lend themselves out” to interested readers and engage in conversations with them. Through these conversations, Human Libraries encourage understanding of people who come from varied cultural or lifestyle backgrounds, and provide opportunities for stories to be told and heard. Human Library events have been held in 27 countries around the world since 2000.
This year’s event at Crandall had 33 books available for loan, each coming to campus ready to share in conversation with the students who would be signing them out. Some of the book titles included: a First Nations Canadian, a man with Down syndrome, a nun, a person with schizophrenia, a Muslim feminist, a female race car driver, a recovered drug addict, and many others.
The Human Library was held in the Commons on the first floor of Stultz Hall. Students from Dr. Bokhorst-Heng’s class acted as librarians, registering readers and helping them with their book selections. Readers could check out a living book for 15-20 minutes (and sometimes longer) and ask those questions they have always wondered about.
In addition to the conversations at tables, the books had an opportunity to participate in a communal painting arranged by Futong, a B.Ed. student who is also an artist. Two students, Isaac and Maridelsy, played live music at the piano while our books and readers engaged in their conversations. Readers and books alike expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to have these conversations; even the books themselves had opportunity in those rare moments when they were not signed out to chat with each other.
As expressed by Dr. Bokhorst-Heng, these conversations are a small – but important – part of a longer journey of greater awareness and appreciation for diversity in our society, and a more inclusive approach to Christian hospitality. “Ultimately,” she says, “the goal is that our hearts and souls are expanded and enriched through this experience.”
Crandall University’s Education department offers undergraduate degrees in Education and Technical Education, as well as a Master of Education in Inclusionary Practices. For more information on these or other programs, call 1-888-968-6228 or visit crandallu.ca.