I try to make a point to take my girls to the various festivals that occur throughout the Lower Mainland. There are two reasons for this: fun, and exposure to culture and diversity. It’s fun to explore new neighbourhoods – each has it’s unique stamp: people, organizations, pride. It’s also nice to see the diversity of each place we visit and how it changes demographically, by a few kilometres.
Recently, we visited the ‘Hats off Day‘ festivities in Burnaby. We meandered up and down Hastings. We stopped to climb all over a fire truck and discussed how firefighters work hard to save lives. We witness the ribbon cutting of the new South Burnaby Neighbourhood House. We watched gymnasts jump ridiculously high on trampolines and imagined the girls as future gymnasts. We stopped at the Burnaby Public Library and had a reprieve from the busy-ness of the day (My favourite! Have you seen the “I Spy” Table?!).
The following week, we participated in ‘Car Free Day‘ in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood. Again, the street was closed and I watched as my girls took over the street with no care for cars. A clown gave the girls balloon creations, the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund had volunteers paint their faces, and music played on to the beat of ‘Swing’ as dancers demonstrated their magic.
With summer festivities in full swing, and opportunities abound, I reflect on the importance of such events. Attending these events give me a sense of community. Belonging. I can ask questions that I wouldn’t otherwise ask because my children are curious (I can ask on their behalf). I lose my inhibitions this way and feel closer to those who take the time to give to the community to give us these days.
In books, I am swept up in the story of another life, and whisked away to an alternative reality. In oral storytelling, I am drawn in further; it’s like I can visualize, more clearly, the story and the characters as a result of the visual cues, the emotions, the facial expressions and the first-hand experiences. This is why I was so excited about the Surrey Libraries (Semiahmoo Branch) Human Library initiative. I could borrow a human book to hear a story and ask questions as the tale unfolded.
I rented two human books (believe me, I wanted to rent more!): Christian-Catholic (Peter) and Pagans-Order of Scáthach (Michael and Sara Lasure). I was given 20 minutes to converse with each and, let me tell you, it was fun, enlightening and heartwarming. Each ‘book’ explained their journey to finding their religion and the impact it had on them and how they connect with their world. Each explained the guidelines of their religion to me in simplistic terms, enthralling me in the process. Each answered any question I had with patience and respect.
I left with a sense that something in me had shifted and I spent some time reflecting on the impact of what I received during this brief encounter. What I realized is this:
- I received a human connection to the story being told; a first person perspective full of raw experience, emotion and history.
- I became hungry to learn more about each respective religion.
- I connected to another person, at a very deep level, within the 20 minutes; deepened by the lack of fear I had in asking questions and receiving profound responses in return.
- I increased my knowledge about another religion and expanded my world as a result.
- I was connected to a person within the religion who I could contact if I had further questions.
I am looking forward to the next Human Library when it hits a library in the Lower Mainland and I would encourage you to participate in this transformative experience. In the meantime, I have some reading to do!
“I ransack public libraries, and find them full of sunk treasure.”
― Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf
Each library offers its own unique treasure. My home library offers much, but I look forward to seeing what other libraries have to offer in their troves. Surrey Public Library (Central Branch) is located right next to my workplace so, naturally, it would be helpful to me to borrow materials from there as well. Lucky for me, I can (and it’s EASY!).
Bring your Library Card and 1 piece of photo identification to your desired borrowing location (this location is particularly spectacular!).
Wait for the next available super-awesome library staff member to assist you (so awesome, they should be wearing a super-hero cape).
Ask to have the librarian to add borrowing rights to your existing library card, then wait for them to do their magic.
Listen carefully as the librarian explains your borrowing privileges.
Wander the library and look for your new ‘sunk treasure’ (I know, right?! It’s amazing!).
(I can’t wait to add the Vancouver Public Library to my borrowing privileges next!)