BY RACHAEL BLANDAU – STAFF WRITER
On October 26, Humans of Centre College made its first Facebook post. It chronicled the life of international student Eh Nay Thaw, and how he came to Centre. This first post is a good indication of what the organization will be doing in the future—interviewing students, faculty, and staff about their lives, from how they got to Centre’s campus to the struggles and joys in their childhood. The concept is based on popular Facebook page Humans of New York (HONY), which takes a photo of the interviewee and broadcasts their story for the world to see and understand.
Sophomore Adeel Ahmed, and juniors Dee Dee Flynn and Joy Joy Yang founded the organization. When asked how it came about, Yang said, “It was initially one of the projects under a committee I was chairing, which was working to get ideas to improve experiences of international students on campus and raising their awareness of what is going on around campus.”
However, the idea flourished, and they decided that it shouldn’t be limited to just international students and instead should be shared campus-wide so all students could appreciate each other’s unique Centre experience.
While the logistics are still coming together, Yang and his fellow members of the group are choosing whom they will interview and feature in each post. They hope that once they get into a routine, they can really find stories that aren’t heard as much.
“Every week during our weekly meetings, we decide who our potential interviewees are, and then ask people to interview them,” Yang said. “Now that we have established a stronger hold on what we are doing, we are trying to make it more spontaneous.”
This spontaneity is what made Humans of New York such a popular page, with nearly 16 million “likes” on Facebook and hundreds of thousands of followers of the corresponding Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. HONY shifted from a page that was just intended to catalogue New York City’s inhabitants, to a vibrant blog that puts a face and gives an identity to New York’s people. From children to ex-cons, Stanton made the vast city seem smaller.
Using this platform, Stanton also went on to give a voice to those struggling around the world, most recently documenting the harrowing and sometimes heartwarming stories of immigrants escaping from the Middle East in droves. These refugees had been maligned, and treated as if they weren’t humans but merely invaders into people’s lives. Using the page, Stanton gave them an identity, and showed how they weren’t much different from those of us who aren’t escaping from a war-torn country—they’re just human.
The aims of our college’s version of this movement is similar to that of Humans of New York, in how they want to help us understand just how fascinating and wonderful people on our campus truly are.
“We want to establish a culture where people are genuinely trying to learn about other people, and what is unique about them, their stories… and that way I believe students, faculty, and staff are able to communicate with each other more effectively,” Yang said.
Spreading the word about just how diverse our campus is makes us appreciate each other more, and build more meaningful relationships. There needs to be more initiatives with this intention—then, perhaps, we can work towards a more integrated and peaceful world.
Click here to like “Humans of Centre College” on Facebook.