david-kennedy-383477-unsplashToday, I’ve got something new to share with you all— not a poem, but a story about… Well, other stories. This week I had the privilege of participating in a senior project that I was so lucky to be a part of and now, you can be a small part of it too. 

Welcome to the Human Library.

Picture this, you’re walking into a library just like old times, running your fingers across the spines of countless books holding worlds you can’t wait to dive into and you’re doing the one thing they always tell you not to do— judging them by their covers. Now imagine those books were people, each one with a different story and a different title, from “They Asked Me ‘Where I’m From’” to “Nothing But Another Gay Kid.”

These are the stories of what people feel like represent them, the things that make up the identities we try so hard to define for ourselves. Because these are the stories of what people find identify them, from the way they love and the way they look to the way they act and they way they feel. So what do I think defines me, my title?

Still I Rise— The State of Blackness at a PWI.samantha-sophia-374229 

We all have stories and experiences, little bits of who we are that come to define us in incredible ways. This is part of mine, at least for the next two years here. And as I listened to other people tell their stories it was eye opening to understand just how much we don’t see about others, how much we are ignorant of…

Some of it by choice, some of it not. But all of it unknown unless we ask.

This project was meant to break past stereotypes and the prejudices we hold within ourselves. Because it’s our job to start the conversation and try to see beyond what we think we know.

Everyone who came to the human library to check out the books, they came by choice because they wanted to both be a part of it and see a little more of the students that surround us on Cal Poly’s campus. With everything going on at this school, it’s about time we started listening to what’s happening in other people’s lives and stopped assuming we already know.

Each day I spend here, I am reminded of how little I know, even about the people I love and care for. I’m not saying I plan to pry or force people to let me in, but I am saying that as a whole, a lot of us forget to give people a chance to do so when they want to.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m training this quarter to be a WOW (Week of Welcome) orientation leader for next year’s incoming freshman of minority backgrounds. With events like this and each week of training, I hold a little more power in my hands to be a jonathan-weiss-266716-unsplashgood influence on the students I welcome into the school, with a little more strength in my being to do it all right. This quarter, I have become more involved with my campus and the people around me, it’s getting easier to recognize the secrets that hide behind things I don’t understand or the privileges I hold.

I can’t forget about all the books I am still yet to read.

Projects like the Human Library are incredibly important, not just to spread people’s stories, but to also remind us that the world is so much bigger than ourselves. The students who prepared for that event with me over the last two months are just snapshots of our existence, reflections of things we’ve all been through and a whole lot more we haven’t. The thing is, we don’t have to always go through something to understand it, we just have to be willing to learn.

Because, some of these people get pulled into our own chapters, their experiences blending with our own until our pages begin to add up into a heavier, thicker book than what we started with. And as we grow and we change, we take what we’ve got and go from there.

I guess maybe that’s the idea: start with your own experiences, your life, and build on it. Along the way, we can’t be afraid to understand others’ stories while in the process of creating our own. In the end, we are made up of the values wetakahiro-taguchi-574470-unsplash keep and the hopes we hold, all influenced by the things we learn and the people we meet. This week, I got to meet so many extraordinary students. And they got to meet me.

If you want to know a little more about the Human Library, you can find a whole lot of information here and see what it’s all about.

And if you’ve got a story to share, I would love to hear it. As for mine, I think you’ve heard that one by now, but lucky for you, I have plenty of others I can tell you. You’re always welcome to ask.

Happy Friday everyone, see you on Tuesday for a new Bookworms post.

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