By Ashar Memon, February 28 2017 —
The University of Calgary is full of unique people with diverse interests. But in the hustle and bustle of university life, it can often be difficult to make connections. Humans of UCalgary wants to change that.
Those familiar with the Humans of New York Facebook page will recognize this U of C variant, which showcases stories and photos of students, faculty and alumni with diverse backgrounds.
U of C health sciences student and Editor-in-Chief Tingting Yan started Humans of UCalgary in October 2015. The Facebook page now has over 2,700 followers.
“At first it wasn’t exactly a club — I just took a camera and I started shooting and talking to people around the university,” Yan said. “I would walk around on campus and I’d be like ‘this person seems to have time, so why not give it a try’ and people were really nice and open about it.”
Yan said over time, the club evolved and has partnered with over 10 other clubs to showcase the campus community’s passions and interests.
“When you talk to people you realize how cool they are and how many different backgrounds they share,” Yan said. “Not everybody comes from the same three high schools in Calgary, which is what a lot of people think coming into university.”
The club was a recent recipient of the Champions for a Healthy Campus prize — a $5,000 grant for student ideas committed to promoting campus community — as well as the Students’ Union Spotlight Club of the Month award. A not-for-profit coffee table book is expected to launch this month, with an accompanying launch party in late March.
The book will be distributed to offices around the university to provide the club with a greater physical presence on campus.
“We thought that Humans is a very digital platform — not everybody is on Facebook all the time and that’s our primary way of reaching people,” Yan said. “With a book, we can put it in public, visible areas, so it was kind of a cultural thing to be able to have a hard copy coffee table book.”
According to Yan, university administration has also contacted the club to use its material on official U of C social media pages.
Yan said that above all, the page will always be about the people.
“If we made one person smile because someone shares something funny, or if we made one person want to join a club, or if we made one person think that maybe they’ll stay a bit longer and get coffee with that person in their class, then I think that’s what makes me really fulfilled in the end. I think that’s what drives a lot of my team,” Yan said. “It’s that whole spirit of understanding where other people are coming from and understanding that our experiences are diverse, but that we’re all in this together.”
You can check out Humans of UCalgary at facebook.com/HumansofUCalgary. The club’s book launch event will occur on March 23 in That Empty Space from 4:30–6:00 p.m.