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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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First Human Library event at Evans features discussions on discrimination

Evans Library hosted “The Human Library,” inviting the public to hear stories from students and members of the Bryan-College Station community who have personally experienced discrimination.
At the event April 27, 25 volunteers acted as “books,” giving themselves a title with a synopsis of their stories. Interested visitors became “readers” and reserved 30 minute time slots to speak with the volunteers throughout the afternoon. The Human Library began in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2000 as a project for a Danish music festival in Europe, according to their website. Creator Ronni Abergel realized the potential of the idea and traveled across the world to present the event to other interested organizations, allowing the Human Library to spread to over 70 countries.
Marketing manager Patrick Zinn said the Human Library supports A&M’s mission to be a hub of diversity. Zinn said he is very proud of the volunteers who chose to participate in the Human Library and hopes this respectful conversation will carry on throughout campus.
“These are people that are often misunderstood,” Zinn said. “They are willing to put themselves on the frontline and share their stories with other people and be vulnerable. Hopefully in that vulnerability, they are able to change another person’s life and bring a sense of perspective. It’s such a huge moment for them to declare their differences and that they are willing to have a civil conversation about those differences.”
Assistant Dean Jan Pfannstiel said bringing the Human Library to Texas A&M was the right thing to do. She said the purpose of these conversations are not to change a person’s mind about their circumstances but to understand and develop respect for one another.
Our books aren’t here to be encyclopedias or facts,” Pfannstiel said. “They are here to share their story from their perspective and each of them is unique. The first rule for our Human Library is to return the book in the same physical and mental condition in which you checked it out. This experience is about seeking to understand someone’s that is different from you.”
Mathematics freshman Otoniel Trejo volunteered to participate in the event. “A Story of Scarcity, Fluidity, and Life”  was the title of his story, which described the economic, racial and gender ambiguity he experienced while growing up as a Native American.
“The scarcity part is mostly about growing up in poverty,” Trejo said. “That’s just like doing more with less for me … that’s been a theme in my life, just trying to do as much as I can with the little I do have. The fluidity signifies the fact that I have to go through all of these different identities that people try to assign to me. That’s where I have to be able to move through those presumptions without getting too stuck on one.”
While coming to college and getting people to understand him was not always easy, Trejo said  these experiences have allowed him to fully embrace his identity.
“It can be a little rough sometimes, but I’ve always known who I am and this experience has given me the strength to be able to tell that to other people and not back down when someone asks me about it, because I know who I am,” Trejo said. “Being here isn’t going to change my identity, but instead has made me stronger.”

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