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Students ‘Check Out’ the Human Library
Susquehanna University
Susquehanna University

April 24, 2018

Human books like Born From the Great Migration, Black Girl Long Hair, An Extrovert With Anxiety and Finding My Song opened themselves to visitors at Susquehanna's Human Library.

Locally organized by the Blough-Weis Library and the student group, Better Together, the Human Library was founded in Denmark in 2000. Since then it has been presented in more than 70 countries around the world.

"The concept of the event," said librarian Ryan Ake, "is that people have unique and exceptional stories that are specific to them, and this is their opportunity to tell those stories in the way that you might get a story from a book. Each individual who volunteered here is a human book, and they've come up with a title of their own that speaks to the nature of their life story."

Junior Rebekka Rosen, of Southbury, Conn., titled her book Finding Her Song: Music as an Interfaith Tool.

Rosen, a music education major, said she has struggled to find her place as a Jewish woman in a music education major dominated by Christian repertoire. She recounted sharing her desire for Jewish music to her high school choir, only to be rebuffed and ridiculed.

Rosen now describes herself as an interfaith advocate, and encourages other to celebrate the traditions of all religions. She believes music is an integral interfaith tool and hopes her journey as a Jewish musician finding her way in a non-Jewish culture is inspirational to others.

"I strongly believe in the power of story-telling," Rosen said. "It's inspiring to see what can happen with one-on-one interaction."

Harvey Edwards, English teacher-in-residence at Susquehanna, called his book Born From The Great Migration.

"When I talked about things like the Jim Crowe south, students had no idea what I was talking about or what that meant," Edwards said. "In sharing my parents' story of moving from the deep south to Brooklyn, I'm telling my own story and helping younger students understand more of our history."

Senior history major Tim Littlefield, who attended the event as part of his history course, was so moved by his chat with Edwards that he decided to "check out" another book.

"He's an incredible story-teller and he has an incredible story to tell,'" Littlefield said. "I learned so much. This was a cool program."

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