Sunderland College students hold a social action event called The Locals Library.
The event had other students speaking to the ‘living books’ as they told their stories and had a conversation about them.
Their lecturer, Gilly Hope, spoke of the event as preparing the students, who produced the event, so they are ready for the workplace.
She said: “Well that’s part of their learning process. So, it’s to encourage them to be proactive, to encourage them to use their initiative, to encourage them to be forward thinking and to be ready for when they leave college to be in the workplace.”
Gilly described the event as a way to “break down boundaries through conversations” and she believes it has been successful in this respect.
Their lecturer saw this project as a chance to change others perceptions by having other students speak to people from different backgrounds they might never have the opportunity to in their life.
She said: “Well the whole purpose of Social Action and Community Media is to change people’s perceptions through art, music,dance or through events and that’s what this has been today.
“In a nutshell, it’s just more conversations between groups of people, who probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to speak to somebody from that particular walk of life in their everyday life.
“So, by coming together with this project it helps to develop those conversations.”
The students were given two roles in sourcing a book [person] and producing the event as they were divided between stage managers, front of house and marketing.
Nathan Penman, 18, was one of the students producing the event and he described him being relieved to have finally done the event.
He said: “Well it’s very relieving to get it over and done with, but it’s also quite nice people enjoyed it as much as they did.”
The guests ranged from a transgender male, a Paranormal investigator, a Sister of Mercy, the Director of the North of England Refugee service and a congregation member from the Newcastle Reform Synagogue.
Nathan thought this event gave people more of an understanding of different topics they might never talk so someone about on the streets.
He said: “I think that people don’t really tend to know a lot about people when they walk past other people on the street. For example, the ghost hunter, no one would walk past on the street and think a ghost hunter or anything like that.
“They would not have the confidence to say anything about it or research it, but actually meeting up with one and talking to one has people having more understanding towards that field of research or faith.”
The event gave everyone the opportunity to speak to three of the guests for 15 minutes, to learn and talk about their topic.
Nathan thought if they had longer to set up the event, they could have made it bigger and better, but overall feels it ran great for a student run event.
He said: “I feel like it turned out very great for a student run event, but if more lecturers decided to make students do more events and give us more time like say two months to set it up, we could make it even bigger or better and I think that would be a really good thing for not just the students, but for all of Sunderland or all of every area.”
Through the event, all the students involved engaged with listening to each story and asked questions on the subjects, which all helped to make the event as successful as it is.
Overall, Gilly thought the event was a success, achieved its purpose and let people speak to people they have probably never spoke, like a transgender male or someone who goes out ghost hunting.
She said: “The idea is to break down boundaries through conversations and I think looking at some of the feedback and speaking to some of the living books and to some of the participants it has achieved that because for a lot of the young people, they haven’t spoken to anyone who has worked with refugees, they haven’t spoken to anybody who is transgender, they’ve never spoken to somebody who is a nun and lives within a religious order, they’ve never spoken to anybody who goes out and tracks ghosts. So, in that respect it’s certainly been a success.”