“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
- Albert Camus, French philosopher, author, Nobel Prize laureate,1913-60
If only we took the effort to see beyond the obvious, there is beauty in all things surrounding us. November is a month to contemplate what has passed and what is yet to come, but let’s not forget to live life fully in the “now.”
The month begins with “La Toussaint” (All Saints Day) for the Catholics to commemorate Christian saints, known, unknown, followed by the next day to remember those dear and departed. In Mexico, the day (2nd) is celebrated with traditions and customs passed down in families, also known as “el Día de los Muertos.”
On the 4th, many Indians worldwide will be celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights, while in Japan, the 15th is a special day known as Shichi-Go-San (7-5-3 Day) for girls aged seven and three and boys aged five. A few days later (19th), people in Thailand will float lotus-shaped boats made of banana leaves on the water to honour the Goddess of Water, and in Chiang Mai, lit lanterns will adorn the night sky as the day also coincides with the Yi-Peng festival.
Last but not least, many American families will celebrate Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday (25th) of the month. Remembering all the people and things we have to be thankful for is the “special” besides the roast turkey and pumpkin pie. Eckhart Tolle, the German writer, once said: “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
This month, we just want to say Thank you. Thank you for your friendship, and thank you for taking the time to journey with us!
A Journey A Month...
Your Story. Our Story. The Human Story.
Before the internet, social media, and mobile devices took over our world, many of us spent our growing up days frequenting the libraries in search of knowledge. I love going to the libraries, so much so that I even volunteered to be a school librarian during my teenage years. A library to me is the “wonder of the world.” It is always one of the first places I will check out when I move to a new city.
My personal library space at home started as a little corner in the attic of a 2-bedroom house in France to now an entire living area that I call my reading room in Singapore. The last time I moved, 20 boxes of books moved with me.
I thought I knew all about the library. Alas, not until recently, when I read an article about “The Human Library.” Intrigued, I “googled” and discovered that this Danish idea started more than twenty years ago and has since spread to over 80 countries.
Instead of borrowing books, readers borrow “people, a.k.a. human-books ” from the library. These books are people who have experienced prejudice, social exclusion or stigma, and they volunteered to share their stories. Readers can ask the “books” questions about their experience, challenges, and how they handle them. The project aims to create a safe environment where stereotypes and prejudices can be addressed through open dialogue. Watch the following clip if you want to learn more about it:
The concept is quite extraordinary. The thought that everyone is a book and we can borrow it from a Human Library is exciting. There are mountains of challenges we face today, climate, health, society, and the list goes on. Technology alone is not the answer. We need greater wisdom than what technology can offer. Humans created these problems, and we can only resolve them if we genuinely care for one another.
All of us have unconscious bias; often, our unconscious bias stops us from making connections with those different from us. The good news is we can learn how to remove it. Open dialogue allows us to share experiences, exchange ideas, learn from each other, accept and create the connection we need. Another good news is in general; humans are made to help and be good to each other; otherwise, we wouldn’t have survived as a species. So there is hope!
An ancient Chinese proverb says, “there is a house built in gold hidden in every book (书中自有黄金屋).” If we want to live a rich life, don’t wait for the Human Library Project or its organised event to come to us. After all, the “Human Books” are everywhere; what it takes is for us to say a simple “Hello”, take off our tinted glasses and start a conversation without prejudice.
Be surprised by how vast your library collection can be and how much “wealth” is around you!
Take heed of the advice from the library: DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER, learn to “Unjudge”, and “Embrace” the stories of the “books” for your best reading experience. Try it out, pick up a “book”, start reading again.
Have a wonderful time “treasure-hunting” and discovering the world!
The world is fascinating simply because differences exist!
Join us to spread the words, share the vision, and do our parts.
At TransCultural Group (TCG), we are determined to play our part in making the world a better place. We have launched an e-book for Youth. We have also uploaded the complete series of “Food around the World” on our YouTube channel.
Please share it If you love our effort, and please give us a “like” and subscribe to our “YouTube” channel (it is free!) Come support us!
Crossing Cultures – Beyond Boundaries
Keng Keng Tan
Founder & CEO