Cultural Competence as a librarian + immigration as part of globalization

9781616206888-679x1024This is my INFO281 Blog Post #3

In our globalization class, we’ve been reading about cultural flows and global flows of people (migration in particular).  As I read about the plight of undocumented immigrants, I was reminded by a recent read: The Leavers by Lisa Ko.  I did a post for my book summary blog for The Leavers, which is the story of a mother and her child who are separated by immigration authorities, and the emotional aftermath that ensues as a result–the child, Deming, is adopted into a white family, but he essentially becomes a rudderless vessel as a result of the trauma.  The book won the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.  In an interview with Hyphen magazine’s Melissa Hung, Ko notes that a white reader was skeptical of the events in the story, saying, “But  this would never happen. This doesn’t feel believable to me — that an Asian child would experience this amount of racism nowadays.”   Ko wrote her book based on a true story!  (Hung, 2017).

In reading the novel myself, and in connecting the story to reading from our Ritzer and Dean text, I appreciate the cultural and global competence that these experiences afford.  I teach in a high-immigrant community, and see firsthand the effect anti-immigrant legislation under our current government administration has on immigrant American citizens and their families.  I grew up in a middle-class white home in California, sheltered and oblivious to the struggles of people who have come to this country to escape, to survive.  As a teacher, and then a librarian, I have 10 plus years of experience, but it wasn’t until Silicon Valley Reads (regional literacy program) focused their 2015 theme on immigration and I read NoViolet Bulawayo’s (2013) We Need New Names and The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez (2014), then INFO237, when we covered the importance of cultural competence, and now in this globalization class, that I’ve really moved toward increasing my understanding through reading first-hand experiences and novels that illustrate true stories.   I am convinced that this deepening understanding/awareness makes me a better teacher librarian and a better global citizen.

References:

Hung, M. (2017, May 28). Interview with The Leavers author Lisa Ko. Hyphen Magazine. Retrieved from https://hyphenmagazine.com/blog/2017/05/interview-leavers-author-lisa-ko

Ritzer, G. & Dean, P. (2015). Globalization: A basic text. Chichester, West Sussex: Blackwell and Wiley. [Referenced Chapters 8 & 10]

 

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Hey everybody, let’s host a Human Library!

HumanBookIn reading the June 2017 issue of American Libraries, I came across the article titled, “If these books could talk” by Liz Granger.  In it, Granger talks about a recent trend called the Human Library.  A Human Library is one that checks out humans that are “read” by the patron in a 20-minute conversation.  There is also the option of checking out a human for a group, which may help those who are timid about asking questions.  For example, if I attended an event, I might check out a “book” titled Drug addict or another called Illegal Immigrant.  I would have a conversation with the human book.  What might we talk about? I’m sure I would have my own questions, but hopefully, the organizer has coached the human book and run through practice questions as one organizer, Megan Gilpin of Penn State University recommends (p. 23).  

Ronni Abergel, cohost of the first human library event in Copenhagen in 2000, trademarked human library in 2010 with the goal of helping people “confront prejudice and stereotypes” (p.20). (FYI, If a library or organization wants to host a human library event, they must apply for permission from The Human Library Organization, and if they are approved, they are given training materials that facilitate setting one up.)

So my thought is this: AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner (2007) mark the importance of supporting global citizenship. AASL 3.3.1 states, “Solicit and respect diverse perspectives while searching for information, collaborating with others, and participating as a member of the community,”and standard 3.3.2 states, “Respect the differing interests and experiences of others, and seek a variety of viewpoints.” As facilitators and coaches, we teacher librarians can host these kinds of events!  Think of the impact in just one day!  Speaking from my own experience, we teachers and school administrators have a heightened sense of awareness about the threat of prejudice in light of recent 2016 events.  One school in my district had to handle anti-semitic threats this past year which resulted in examining practices through work with the Anti-Defamation League. Our efforts to level the playing field and combat prejudice can be augmented by programs like the Human Library.

What if the Human Library could be an event conducted online?  ISTE Standards for Students (2016) state that students “use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.”  I can imagine a classroom where students interview a human book in the same way that they interview entrepreneurs and industry experts with Google Hangouts for business classes or career days.  Moreover, an online environment for the Human Library would encourage the global transaction–remote information made local.  In this case, the transaction is not only information, it hopefully represents socio-emotional growth.

According to another organizer, Abby Kasowitz-Scheer from Syracuse University Libraries, people who attend Human Library events are “inspired by the strength of survivors and by people’s ability to go on after difficult life experiences.” (qtd. in Granger, p. 23).  If a big part of our mission is to help students to empathize with others, the Human Library sounds like a great way to accomplish this, giving way more bang for the buck.    

References:

American Association of School Librarians. (2007) Standards for the 21st-century learner. American Library Association.  Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards

Granger, L. (2017, June). If these books could talk. American Libraries, 48(6), pages 20-21, 23.  Retrieved online from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2017/06/01/if-these-books-could-talk-human-libraries/ 

ISTE Standards for Students. (2016).  International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/docs/Standards-Resources/iste-standards_students-2016_one-sheet_final.pdf?sfvrsn=0.23432948779836327