A little person. A socialist turned capitalist. A Navy Search and Rescue Veteran who responded to 9/11 to aid in the search and rescue efforts after three tours in the Gulf.
These stories and more will be featured at the April 5 Human Library Event at the Strosacker Library & Learning Commons.
The Human Library concept is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue. It is a place where real people — like students, faculty, alumni and residents from the community at large — will be on loan to readers
The following are some of the Human Books that will be featured at this year’s event:
Title: Motherhood: A journey filled with pain and joy
Description: After my doctor told me that it was unlikely that I’d conceive a child without medical intervention, my then-husband and I made the choice to actively try to expand our family with the help of fertility treatments. I was 23 years old. After three years of battling infertility, that second pink line appeared on a home pregnancy test. A high-risk pregnancy, bed rest and emergency cesarean section finally resulted in a little, almost 9-pound baby boy.
Fast forward 18 months to the day that little boy received a diagnosis of a developmental delay. At 3, an autism diagnosis. At 5, my baby experienced his parents’ painful divorce after I miscarried my second child. A few years down the road, I gained a stepdaughter through a second marriage. She is just two years older than my son. The adoption process was started and after several disappointments and bumps in the road, it was finalized in November 2021. Now, my husband and I are raising two children with very different needs while working full-time and continuing our education. The children’s needs do not come without their challenges, but we muddle through day by day as our “normal” constantly changes. Nothing about this has been easy, but everything about it has been worth it.
Title: I Am Bart – My Life as a Dwarf
Description: This book describes “who I am” and growing up as a 4’6” achondroplasia dwarf in an averaged size world. It provides the reader with a snapshot of some of the physical and mental challenges associated with this being a little person and the perception of dwarfism in society. Fighting against the stigma and discrimination associated with being a person of short stature is still one of the greatest challenges that people with dwarfism face daily. Too many times people assume that little people aren’t big enough to do things and sometimes that stigma takes on an identity of its own in the form of self-deprecating nicknames. I had one: My nickname was “gimp” and I embraced it. My book includes examples of those day-to-day awkward and sometimes comical moments where people look at me differently, and my journey through life to be a chemist for The Dow Chemical Company. More importantly, this story is about faith, and determination in the face of adversity and how I’ve embraced my uniqueness, and identity as a little person. It took me 40 years to realize it, but my nickname and stereotype are gone: I am no longer “Gimp” — my name is Bart and I am an achondroplasia dwarf. That is who I am.
Title: My Path to Defying Stigmas
Description: A Navy Search and Rescue Veteran who responded to 9/11 on September 12th to aid in the search and rescue efforts after three tours in the Gulf learns to cope with the psychological stressors after enlistment. Some visions will never fade, and some demons will never loosen their grip but somehow you must create a new norm and way of life. Overcoming the stigmas, I returned to school to seek a new career path and successfully completed a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree and currently work in crisis to help others that are navigating mental health battles of their own.
Title: The Unseen Plague
Description: I still remember the exact day where my life changed for the worse. I was standing in line at a store to check out when suddenly I began shaking. The world around me didn’t seem real, and my heart was pounding in my chest. Was I breathing? Anxiety had silently infected my brain without me noticing, and now it was crippling me. Every day was too much to handle. My body would jolt me awake in the middle of the night with heart palpitations and a fainting feeling. Simply existing seemed too big a burden to bear, as even when the world around me was serene, I felt physically ill. It was all too much. Somehow, I had to learn how to make peace with this anxious plague before it grew into something bigger, darker, and pulled me too far down.
Title: Capitalism, If You Value Liberty
Description: There are only two ways to interact with people — force or freedom. It’s either coercion or cooperation. My story is about growing up under socialism, where my rights were violated and my freedoms denied. Yet, I grew up believing in the socialist ideal. This is a story of my recovery from the socialist virus, embracing capitalism as liberty under the rule of law, the only system that provides opportunities for all to pursue their dreams and flourish.
Title: Addiction, A Lesson of Surrender and Vulnerability
Addiction has become so commonplace in our society that it is hard to not find someone who is not affected by this disease themselves or has a close friend or family member that has dealt with the consequences of addiction. Addiction brings a heavy economic and social cost to America. Finding a solution to helping addicts is a problem we have not successfully figured out as a society. It is very easy to say that people who end up homeless and addicted to drugs or alcohol chose that life for themselves and should have to figure out how to remedy the situation for themselves. This has long been the solution, that or lock them in prison or jail and hope they do not go back out and chose the same lifestyle again. I thought something very similar for many years. I never thought I would end up losing my family, friends, wife and daughter to the pull of prescription opiates. The journey is not direct to recovery. There were many missteps on the road back to a life I love but the thing that keeps me going in the right direction is striving to live a life of compassion and empathy to those who continue to struggle with addiction in their own lives.