A Human Library with Refugee Stories

Posted by projects on Aug 22

The main aim of a Human Library is to enable people to meet, listen to each other, overcome fears and/or prejudices. On the 26th of June, SCI Switzerland organized a Human Library with refugee stories in one of Berne's transit centers for asylum seekers. The event was part of an "open doors day" where neighbours and interested people could come and visit the facilities and its inhabitants.

Photo by Janique BehmanParticipants at the 'Human Library with Refugee Stories' organised by SCI Switzerland, Berne, Switzerland (2016) photo by: Janique Behman

"SCI's Human Library on refugee stories consisted of ten human books from Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea, Palestine and Yemen, as well as Swiss citizens engaged in activities for and with refugees, among them also SCI volunteers. In each of its five rounds we had around four to six visitors listening to a human book who shared his or her personal story. The Human Library generated big interest among the visitors: Several times more chairs had to be organized during the three hours duration to welcome everybody who wanted to listen to the stories and to exchange views, feelings and experiences in an intimate setting. Beautiful to see was that not only young visitors came but also mid-aged people, elderly and even kids.

Personal contacts and connections have been created and we are sure that several of them will go beyond the event, grow and develop into friendships. From our experience the Human Library is a great method for meeting people coming from different backgrounds where otherwise there would usually be little contact.

Here's a video of SCI Switzerland's very first Human Library in 2014.

You can learn more about the Human Library method in the Building Bridges Toolkit. The Building Bridges Toolkit is a web platform, designed to share the know-how on voluntary projects involving asylum seekers and refugees as well as raising awareness on forced migration in general. We want to inspire you with our case studies of successful projects on the topic. We also want to support you in starting similar initiatives by providing you with a list of practical guidelines on how to organize such projects and specific methods you can use inside them.

For more info about this method you can also visit: http://humanlibraryuk.org/human-library/the-methodology/

We hope to encourage further SCI branches to explore its potential and are happy to exchange and share experiences. Feel free to contact SCI Switzerland at: info@scich.org"

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