Human Library gives you an opportunity to engage with the authors and listen to their stories.
On the occasion of Civil War Commemoration Day, April 13, 2016, the Student Affairs Office and the Human Rights Club at Notre Dame University (NDU) hosted an event titled “The SAO Human Library: Remembering in Order Not to Repeat”. Guests were invited to NDU library where they were given the opportunity to listen to several testimonies and stories from different people who were actively involved in the Lebanese civil war. This unique experience gives a new meaning to the act of “reading”; instead, guests listen to the stories.
This offers them an opportunity to engage with the authors/speakers and ask questions.
Dr. Ziad Fahed, Dean of the Student Affairs Office and the program’s founder stated that the idea of a “Human Library” originated in Denmark, and is new to the Middle East. The aim of the Human Library was to build a “spirit of awareness” in an interactive way. He stressed the importance of spreading the idea that “war is not a trip, or a joke, or news.” Fahed continued, “It’s a painful reality that destroys everyone involved. Nobody was left pure after the war - everyone was affected and destroyed in different ways, and there are people who are still suffering.”
Joseph Atayeb, who held high positions in the Red Cross during the civil war, contributed to the message of peace by sharing personal accounts of the trajic events he witnessed during the war. he mentioned that
to die.” One of the most heartfelt testimonies was given by Marwan Khoury, the manager of a drug rehabilitation center who lost his brother in the war. His brother who could read and write six languages, was an AUB graduate with a degree in business management. He had studied theology for three years and decided to become a priest but was then killed. Mr. Khoury was adamant in his stance on non- violence. He stated, “There is nothing beautiful about war. It was chaos. There was nothing - no schools, no universities.” Lastly, he finished his testimony with a message; “The success of Lebanon is due to the strength of family.” He encouraged keeping strong family ties, describing how essential they are to Lebanese society.
The event’s anti-violence message resonated deeply within the students who participated. Many of the students came out of curiosity having heard people mention the war over the years, and wanting to understand it better. Hearing the personal stories of the guests face to face made the war real, and not just an event written about, but an event experienced by many. Now the dust has settled, some people are still reliving the war and are surrounded by the destruction it caused. One of the students summed up the overall feeling of the students who came to the Human Library by saying, “War is never the solution to anything, anywhere.”
The Student Affairs Office at NDU has hosted several events of this kind, bringing different topics and discussions to the Human Library. Before “Remembering in Order not to Repeat”, the Human Library offered a series of presentations on a wide variety of subjects, including: Life of Service to God, Life of a Drug Addict, Dealing with HIV, Confronting Domestic Violence among many others.
By engaging in one-on-one conversations and listening to the experiences of the speakers, the participants are given a unique opportunity to interact with the stories being presented. The Human Library is where people go to ask challenging questions and earn powerful answers from real human beings. It is a place designed to welcome conversations that confront stereotypes and address discrimination through constructive dialogue – a global movement for social change. What’s the message? Don’t judge a book by its cover.