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Saanich students get lessons from ‘human books’

Kyle McCulloch travelled the world for cheap, and shared his experiences and advice with Spectrum Community School students as part of the Human Library project. - Kyle Slavin/News staff
Kyle McCulloch travelled the world for cheap, and shared his experiences and advice with Spectrum Community School students as part of the Human Library project.
— image credit: Kyle Slavin/News staff

Some people are harder to read than others, but the speakers participating in Spectrum Community School’s Human Library project are all open books.

The brief biography of human book Kyle McCulloch says the 28-year-old is a world traveller on the cheap.

He sees his role as a human book as an opportunity to provide guidance to students as they look toward planning for the future.

“This is a frank, unscripted conversation with someone that’s knowledgeable about what they’re talking about,” he said. “This is someone who’s experienced it, not just read it in a book. Now you have a direct connection to what you want to know.”

School librarian Alan Clark says that sums up the reasoning behind Spectrum’s first-ever Human Library, held last Thursday.

“There’s a richness of experience that everybody here has that benefits the students,” he said. “There is such a potential for a really powerful learning experience. It’s going to leave the kids with a lot to think about.”

For McCulloch, he wants to open the students’ eyes to a post-secondary option that isn’t about schooling.

Though he backpacked around the world – visiting 22 countries over six months – when he was 26, he says students should take advantage of the opportunities they get right now, at 18 and 19 years old, instead of waiting for a better time in life.

“Travelling, for me, gave me a perspective on life that you may not normally experience,” he says while recanting a story to a group of students about seeing the poverty in Africa, Southeast Asia and India. “This is the best time to see the world.”

Janni Aragon, a UVic political science professor, melds youth politics and pop culture to inform students about political engagement and involvement. In her brief presentation, she talks about reality TV and The Hunger Games book series to draw attention to the prevalence of politics in most aspects of the students’ lives.

“We need to make bridges with the communities we live in – I’m part of this community, and this is one way to build a bridge with these students,” Aragon said. “Talking to young people is important. You’re imparting your expertise on young people, you’re getting good public speaking experience, and I think they’re really enjoying it. They’re engaged.”

Grade 11 student Angelica Cherneske listened to both McCulloch and Aragon. She says talking to both provided her with a bit of guidance in her post-secondary options.

“I believe some kids came in with no idea what they want to be when they grow up. These speakers sparked their interest enough that they may want to pursue it, or at least look into it,” she said. “I like the idea of a Human Library. Hearing about their experiences, what something’s really like, it’s not something you’d read in a book.”

For more information on the Human Library, visit humanlibrary.org

kslavin@saanichnews.com

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