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An Open Book 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 26, 2019) – Fardin Sanai escaped from Iran with his aunt when he was 18 years old.

His compelling story – from refugee to Vice President for University Advancement at UAlbany – is one of the many “books” that will be presented at this year’s Human Library on Tuesday, March 5, in the Campus Center West Addition.

Nine faculty, staff and students will be presenting as “books,” telling their own histories, at 4:30 p.m. and again at 5:30 p.m. They range from undergrads to grad students, to faculty, staff and alums from Taiwan, Bosnia, Canada, Belarus, Ghana and Sudan. Olympic sprinter and hurdler Grace Claxton will tell her story of coming from Puerto Rico.

The event, which was successful last year, has returned this year with the theme, Stories of Immigration. President Havidán Rodríguez will kick off the event with remarks at 4 p.m. 

“Immigration has dominated the news cycle,” said Linda Krzykowski, assistant vice provost for student engagement. “But our students want to understand more about what immigration means than what you get in a tweet. This campus is incredibly diverse, and what better way to understand a topic than to talk to people who have firsthand experience with it. Beyond that, we want students to forge a connection with professors, staff members and other students who have lived different experiences. We learn best when we connect with others.”

Krzykowski first heard of the Human Library, which originated in Denmark in 2000, at a conference, and knew it would be a great event for UAlbany to host. Essentially, the Human Library brings together UAlbany community members to tell their stories. The speakers are referred to as “books” — since they are, figuratively, opening their pages for all to read. Each “book” will speak to a small group of attendees to encourage questions.

“This is not storytelling,” said Krzykowski. “It’s not designed to have you just sit back and passively hear something. It’s designed to challenge stereotypes by connecting to someone who has seen the world from a different vantage point. We hope students really learn from the conversation and dialogue.”

The event is co-sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, Student Engagement, the University Libraries, the New York State Writers Institute and University Auxiliary Services. Check in at the information desk in the Campus Center West Addition, ground level, across from Starbucks.

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