Come to the Human Library!

I’ll be the first to admit, it sounded a little creepy. This was the class project presented by one of the groups in this year’s Signature Leadership program. On Saturday, March 26th, the class arranged for ten citizens of Medina County to be available at the Medina County Library for their fellow citizens to “check out.” Still sounding creepy? Let me explain.

Donned in matching black t-shirts with the words “Human Library” emblazoned on them, Susy Lora, Charlene Bunner, Maureen Maxwell, Suzie Muniak, Ben Walker, Pam Wheeler, Danica Zeise, Michelle Reese, Lynn Emmons, and Erin Cline guided attendees to a card catalogue of sorts explaining what kinds of people were available to check out.

It was a true case of being able to judge a book by its cover–and then being able to ask the book how it feels about that. The purpose was to attempt to bring the differences we see in people closer through interaction and dialogue.

I chose to take out three books: Ron Falconi, Lisa Yoder, and Aaron Demlow.

If the name Ron Falconi sounds familiar to you, then you probably live in Brunswick and know that he is the current mayor. Yes, I got to have a one-on-one discussion with the mayor of Brunswick. How exciting is that? The topic of his “book” was how he has dealt with discrimination. He and his family are Filipino and, despite having lived in Ohio for almost his entire life, he said he has had the occasional odd comment like, “Wow, your English is really good.” I learned that he loves being mayor and he loves working and living in Medina County.

The second name might sounds familiar because if you have ever traveled to Amish county, you probably have seen the name, “Yoder.” Lisa made the difficult decision to leave the Amish faith when she was 30. When her oldest child was ready for Kindergarten, she and her husband decided that they wanted their children to grow up in the English world instead of the Amish world. “It was a culture shock,” she told me. “We liked things like getting electricity and indoor plumbing, but I also had to figure out how to enroll the children in school, get a driver’s license. It was like moving to a foreign county.” Only they hadn’t moved. They were still right down the street from her parents. Her parents who didn’t speak to her for three and a half years. She persevered, however, and went on to get her GED, and her then her BSN. She currently works as a nurse right here at Medina hospital. Some of her co-workers came out to support her and even “check her out” to talk to her about her story.

Last, but not least, was Aaron Demlow. I consider Aaron the bravest book of all because he was there to explain his life as a transgender youth. What I learned from him is that being yourself can be the hardest thing in the world, but in the end, its the only thing that will truly allow you to be happy. I admired his fearlessness in making himself available to people for this project.

The project was well attended and well received. The creepiness wore off. I enjoyed myself immensely and walked away with a better understanding of my Medina County neighbors.

 

To learn more about the event, I encourage you to read the article posted here:

Story by Kevin McManus, Post Newspapers, http://www.thepostnewspapers.com/medina/columns/the-buzz-around-town/article_58274815-9c8a-5a39-9d22-9bec09b5c868.html

 

 

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