“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” –
George R.R. Martin.
This quote had felt truer than ever before for me, during my Human Library experience. I can confidently say the same for our students too. Interacting with people and reading their life first hand with the book must have made impressions deep within their subconscious.
The Human Library is a global movement that encourages social change through dialogue. Through discussion, students can prepare for the real world, challenge stereotypes, and eliminate prejudices.
To prepare students to collaborate and contribute positively and productively, the the International School of North America (SNA) provides a student-centered learning environment emphasizing the key indicators of leadership, effective communication, civic responsibility, critical thinking, and risk-taking. To support the school’s mission and vision, the library has taken the initiative to create a space for the community to foster a diverse and more inclusive and cohesive community despite cultural, religious, social, and racial differences.
At the beginning of the academic year, the school library hosted the Human Library. The framework is unique because it features local and international staff members who promote their understanding across cultural boundaries. Our “open book” participants shared their experiences from their diverse cultural backgrounds and brought their tales of different cultures and exposures they have encountered.
This year, we managed to reach readers with learning opportunities at varying school levels. Invitations were created and sent to the whole school community.
MYP Year 5 took the first opportunity to be a part of this experience and to gain a better understanding of the topic, “Cultural Diffusion” which is also a part of the academic curriculum.
The SNA staff volunteered as ‘Human Books’ for the event. The books involved subjects such as ethnicity, disabilities, love, betrayal, mental health, social status, and growing struggles.
Students gathered and discovered new reading topics that can help them understand the world through first-hand experience. This session helped to address equity, diversity, and inclusion by bringing stories to life. This approach cultivates in students’ empathy, respect, and tolerance for social diversity.
It is a remarkable accomplishment that illustrates the principles and ongoing discussions about our diversity in the whole school. Our library has brought people from all diverse cultures together and allowed readers and books to communicate, learn, and be judged by one another in an unjudgmental environment.
This platform has become so popular in our school community that we want to extend it to our parents and other school-teaching communities.
Ambika Kapur has been working as a teacher-librarian at the International School of North America, Vietnam, for one year and has more than 12 years of experience. Ambika collaborates with staff and teachers to understand their requirements and promote a reading culture in the school. Through library lessons, she aims to create an open and supportive culture where people can connect, learn, teach, and create commonality to work together and create a unified culture of well-being.