Read a Human

Human Library gives you an opportunity to engage with the authors and listen to their stories.

On the occasion of Civil War Commemoration Day, April 13, 2016,  the Student Affairs  Office and the Human Rights Club at Notre Dame University (NDU) hosted an  event titled “The SAO Human Library: Remembering in Order Not to Repeat”. Guests were invited  to NDU library  where they were given the opportunity to listen  to several testimonies and stories from different people who were actively involved  in the Lebanese civil war. This unique experience gives a new  meaning to the act of “reading”; instead, guests listen  to the stories.

This offers them an  opportunity to engage with the authors/speakers and ask questions.

Dr. Ziad Fahed, Dean of the Student Affairs  Office and the program’s founder stated that the idea of a “Human Library” originated in Denmark, and is new to the Middle East. The aim of the Human Library was to build a “spirit of awareness” in an  interactive way. He stressed the importance of spreading the idea that “war is not a trip, or a joke, or news.” Fahed continued, “It’s a painful  reality that destroys everyone involved. Nobody was left pure after the war – everyone was affected and destroyed in different ways,  and there are people who are still suffering.”

Sharing Experience

Joseph Atayeb, who held high positions in the Red Cross during the civil war, contributed to the message of peace by sharing personal accounts of the trajic events he witnessed during the war. he mentioned that

to die.” One  of the most heartfelt testimonies was given by Marwan Khoury, the manager of a drug rehabilitation center who lost his brother in the war. His brother who could  read and write  six languages, was an  AUB graduate with a degree in business management. He had studied theology for three years and decided to become a priest but was then killed. Mr. Khoury was adamant in his stance on non- violence.  He stated, “There is nothing beautiful about war. It was chaos. There was nothing – no schools, no universities.”  Lastly, he finished  his testimony with a message; “The success of Lebanon is due to the strength of family.” He encouraged keeping strong family ties,  describing how essential they are to Lebanese society.

The event’s anti-violence message resonated deeply within the students who participated. Many of the students came out  of curiosity having  heard people mention the war  over  the years, and wanting to understand it better. Hearing the personal stories of the guests face to face made the war  real,  and not just an  event written about, but an  event experienced by many. Now the dust has settled, some people are still reliving the war  and are surrounded by the destruction it caused. One  of the students summed up the overall  feeling  of the students who came to the Human Library  by saying, “War is never the solution to anything, anywhere.”


The Student Affairs  Office at NDU has hosted several events of this kind, bringing  different topics and discussions to the Human Library. Before “Remembering in Order not to Repeat”, the Human Library  offered a series of presentations on a wide variety of subjects, including: Life of Service to God, Life of a Drug Addict, Dealing  with HIV, Confronting Domestic Violence among many others.

By engaging in one-on-one conversations and listening  to the experiences of the speakers, the participants are given a unique opportunity to interact with the stories being  presented. The Human Library  is where people go to ask challenging questions and earn powerful answers from real human beings. It is a place designed to welcome conversations that confront stereotypes and address discrimination through constructive dialogue – a global movement for social  change. What’s the message? Don’t judge a book by its cover.

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