“New York City, one story at a time.” Is the slogan of the phenomenon, Humans of New York. Mrs. Burns explains Humans of New York as,”A photographer who made it his goal to take 10,000 pictures, and to take people’s stories.” Teacher, Mrs. Burns, and student, Sophia Perez, decided to bring Humans of New York to the Prairie community.
Perez talks about how Humans of New York influenced her to want to learn more about the people around her, while Burns comments on how English 10 inspired her to start PoP. In English 10 classes, students were to make six-word memoirs where they create a story only using six words. Stories were funny, sad, engaging, and complex. English 11 classes took that idea, and to Burns, it became much more than an assignment. “I was having these opportunities to get to know students on a level beyond what I had ever done before. I thought, ’How would it be if we could open it up to do this across the district?’ So that people could get to know the people that they see every single day on a new level.”
The members of this project met in Mrs. Burns’ room during the first enrichment and discussed the name of the project, how to engage people to want to be interviewed, roles of the members, and creative ideas to spread this idea throughout the district.
Burns and Perez would both love to see more students join, get involved with the project to expand on ideas, and bring more diverse creativity. Perez states,”If you’re interested in it, you might as well come and join. It’s so much fun.”
When considering how to deal with any negative backlash towards an interviewee who shares their story, everyone in the group is unanimous in showing all their compassion and acceptance towards the interviewee. “This is an environment that’s completely safe,” assures Perez,”You can be anonymous, and have no one know that it’s you. Or if we post it on social media, we can disable comments.”
On September 28, students in the group came up with ways to engage an interviewee. During the enrichment period, the students paired up with each other to practice interviewing. They shared funny stories, and sad stories, and gained more knowledge on their peers.
Everyone involved with People of Prairie is immensely thrilled to participate and learn more about people in the community. Burns expresses,”Our ultimate goal is to bring people closer together and get them to just recognize that people are people. Even if they don’t have the same viewpoints, or the same backgrounds, or the same advantages. They mean something. They are worth something. So hopefully that can strengthen our prairie community.” According to Perez, she feels as though people are,”Divided into these groups,” she hopes that through this project, people can become connected.
“Build compassion, encourage acceptance, and strengthen ties to one another,” The mission statement to People of Prairie.