FSU seeks volunteers for human library

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The Fanshawe Student Union (FSU) is making a human library out of Fanshawe College students.

Re:Tour, short for the Real Campus tour, is an event where students can share each other’s mental health challenges face to face. The tour is scheduled to take place on Jan. 30 at Forwell Hall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The event is part of Fanshawe’s Mental Health and Physical Awareness Week, which runs Jan. 28 to Feb. 1.

The tour will have two options for student participation. Students can submit anonymous confessions of how they are honestly feeling; the confessions will then become part of an interactive pop-up exhibit. Students can also sign up to be part of a human library, where they will have one-on-one 20-minute conversations with their peers. No subject will be off the table.

“We hope to show that students aren’t alone in the challenges that they are facing,” Andrew Waterworth, FSU’s student life co-ordinator, said in an email. “We hope that the event will make them more comfortable to reach out for support that will help them through what is in front of them.”

According to its website, Real Campus is an organization managed by Toronto-based therapy practice Shift Collab. The initiative provides therapy, counselling, courses, tools and events geared to improve students’ mental wellness. Its Re:Tour event is a “oneday mental health festival” to raise awareness of the issue.

Waterworth said that this is the first time that the FSU will be hosting a Re:Tour, which according to its website, is currently in its pilot stages while visiting 10 major colleges and universities across Ontario.

The Re:Tour’s confessional exhibit component is based off Shift Collab’s “What’s your big lie?” workshop. Its website says this is based off “the premise that each of us is living a big lie – and that’s okay.” The concept theorizes that admitting a “big lie” will provide mental relieve and help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

“I believe many students in second semester may be facing anxiety from the previous semester, if it did not go as well as they were hoping,” Waterworth said. “This could lead to other challenges and we are hoping this event will let them see they are not alone and can seek the support they need to be successful.”

He added that beyond adding an anonymous confession, being a part of the human library can give students a better sense of what their peers are experiencing at this time of the year.

“Students should participate if they have a story that they are willing to share. This will help broaden their understanding of struggles other students go through, and help make it more relatable,” he said.

Students interested in volunteering or becoming a “human book” can find the links to application forms at fsu.ca/eventInfo/retour.

“Through many of our events we try to help students unwind and have a break from the demands of school life,” said Waterworth. “On top of that, services like the sharing shop, Chill Lounges and various food giveaways are all to help students through tough times.”