Dedicated to the World Day of Refugees, the 20th of June Trajectorya NGO organized a Local Living Library in Tallinn. This action was run in frames of the KA2 strategic partnership project “Expressions in Dialogue” which main focus is inclusion of refugees and migrants through Living Library methodology.
The Project and this action was supported by the Erasmus plus program of the European Commission.
The Living Library took place at the spaces of the Eesti Pagulasabi – the Estonian Refugee Council (ERC) at Liivalaia 28. The advantage of this venue was that many Human Books were in contact with the Council and involved before in their activities, so, they felt like home in that space. On the other hand ERC had other activities on the same day in frames of the celebration of the World Refugee Day, like African dance workshop, Photographic exhibition created at the project with refugees and tasting Middle-Eastern cuisine. The Living Library nicely integrated into the programme of the Day and Trajectory@ is very thankful for such a great cooperation.
Event started at 18:00 and had 3 reading sessions.
What is the main idea behind the Living Library? Living Library is and activity and social event which aims to raise awareness and sensibilise people on the themes that are spoken much in the society, but at the same time the information about them is lacking or partial, and people do not have personal experience in relation to them. Our objectives are to break stereotypes and prejudices, combat gossips and make visual and evident the wrong and un-trustful information, which reaches us through conscious and unconscious ways.
Why Living Library? This project works through bringing personal experiences of people’s lives. It means, that instead of reading a written story, you can learn the own story of a real person through dialogue with them, listening to them. And this way, listening and talking to the “human book” makes an impact on you, which is very distinct, than reading a text. Listening a personal story creates emotional connections. Through empathy, the reality of another person may become better understood. The first hand information and meeting a real person who lived such an experience, through dialogue, creates a unique opportunity to ask questions and clarify doubts, which we may not have often in another occasion.
What Human Books were there in the Living Library? See the Titles and short description of them:
“Jesus is not a white man”/“Are African scammers?” – Nigerian guy who was born in Muslim family and turned to Christianity; – he faced a lot of troubles in his homeland because of that and now is building his new life in Estonia.
“Happy-go-lucky child” – A girl who has found a way to create her own kind of “happy”, because this is a way to counteract the challenges she faced . Come to share the story of her journey.
“A strong and small girl” – A story of a Syrian girl who became an adult too early because of the war and still has hope and believes in goodness as a kid.
“Peace in Exile” – An Estonian fashion photographer was volunteering for refugee women in the camp with her Project “Peace in Exile”. What brought her there and how this experience transformed her?
“I Changed the country – not my ideas” – This human book is a story about the pathway to political asylum, which is still in process. Also it is a story of a person, who currently has no place to call “home”, for changing so many places of living.
“Mystery Book” – The title of this Human Book was a secret to discover ( A story of an African woman, mother, who came to study in Estonia after her husband, who obtained his job here and builds its life in spite of all the challenges they face in society here. This human book is a story of migration.)
Some of the results of the Living Library event
Over 20 readers, of diverse ages and genders, took part in the Living Library. They were guests of the Estonian Refugee Council who came especially to take part in activities of the20th of June, those, who came for the Living Library event and some neighbors, living nearby the ERC office.
The preparatory team of the Living Library event consisted of locally living Estonians and as well Estonian residents with migrant and refugee background. The last ones not only took part as Human Books, but as well as facilitators supporting the process of the Living Library going smooth and organized.
Such an event , of course, needed thorough preparation, so, several preparatory meetings took place before the event to work on the Human Books’ stories and familiarize the team of Books and facilitators with the concept of Living Library (through several workshops), organizational and logistical matters and coordination, dissemination of the information etc.
Trajectory@ would like to continue working with the team of Human Books and facilitators further on and organize more Living Library events in 2020. In spite of not such a great scale of this event, the feedback of everyone involved in this Living Library: the readers, the Human Books, the facilitators and supporters, was very positive. In future we would like to reach wider public at our events of the Living Library.