Getting to Know Each Other and Ourselves with the Human Library


On Feb. 11, the Augustana Library celebrated the 21st Human Library. This Winter term brought up new topics that relate to on-going events. I attended the first two sections from 6 – 8 p.m.

Professor Feisal Kirumira shared his human book titled “Encountering misconceptions of being African”. When Kirumira went to German in his early 20s to study, he went to a school where he was the only African. Nobody wanted to sit with him in class and worse, a student said behind his back that him holding a Shakespeare book upside-down was not “a wonder”. The indignation went through his body as he thought, “That if I die, I die, but I will not let anyone disrespect me on my intelligence.” It is with sarcasm that people repeatedly ask him why he is so good at German, pretending to make it compliment: “You are an exception.”

The anecdotes he gave about his experiences may not be on a personal level. Every day, everywhere, many individuals still encounter racial discrimination. Racism is inhumane, yet people, even educated ones, still use it intentionally to set pain on others. It might be easy for you to state an arbitrary comment on someone’s skin, but it takes years for that person to move on. Pains never fade away. For those who have never been a victim of any kind of racism, the only way to understand is to listen more to their stories. Just because individuals whose dignity get violated have a big heart to forgive others does not mean others can keep insulting them. Having the Human Library at the same time as Black History Month gave everybody a chance to understand more about African people. You are the one who decides whether to take the lesson to heart or not.

I was somehow surprised to hear Professor Bill Hackborn talking about “Infidel in the community”. How can a Math professor, a “science person”, be associated with the Baha’i Faith? If it is the first time you’ve heard about this faith, Baha’i is a young, monotheistic religion that initially grew in Iran and the Middle East. Bahá’u’lláh is the founder of the Bahá’í Faith. In the middle of the 19th century, he announced that he was the one who brought a message destined to transform humanity’s spiritual life. Bahá’u’lláh endured 40 years of imprisonment, torture and exile by stating himself the final God messenger. “Bahá’u’lláh” means “the Glory of God” in Arabic. This religion believes that all religions have true and valid origins.

It was such a new knowledge hearing him talking about the significance of number 9 in Baha’i Faith. The symbol of  the Baha’i Faith is a nine-pointed star, The Universal House of Justice (Baha’i Faith’s main institution) in Haifa (Israel) has 9 members, and Baha’i Faith’s followers do the 19 Days Feast. After a year feeling like an infidel, because most people around him had a Christian background, Hackborn chose to be open about his faith and received acceptance from the Augustana community, which back then called Camrose Lutheran College.



How do you feel about this event?

The Human Library event is a great opportunity for students to get to know their instructors on a personal level. The sessions are relatable and get you thinking about your own life from a completely new perspective, allowing for growth outside of the classroom around topics that are otherwise left out of the curriculum: relationships, health, and wealth. I attend the Human Library whenever possible since it is harder to get this kind of information or advice elsewhere.
– Naomi Madhere

Being a Math teacher, what is the role of religion in your life?

Even in Math, there are some deep elements that need some element of faith when it gets right down to the Philosophy of Math. Science only gives one side of thing and then we need moral guidance. We need something to unify and I don’t think I can have it outside of religion.

– Professor Bill Hackborn


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