FROM READERS: Humans of Mizzou Facebook gives students a voice

Friday, March 28, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

MU student Stefan Bognar started Humans of Mizzou with his fellow student Haneen Mohammed. Bognar, who is from Serbia, is a linguistics major.

We started the Humans of Mizzou project a couple of weeks ago. The idea came from the famous blog called Humans of New York, by Brandon Stanton. He interviews random strangers in the streets of New York, takes a photo of them and publishes it on his blog. We thought it would be great to apply that concept to our own university and give its students a voice. So we began taking photos and interviewing people for some time, after which we started the Facebook page.

In the beginning, we thought people were sometimes going to be shy and not willing to cooperate; we thought it would be hard for them to open up to someone they just met. It turned out to be quite the opposite, and we haven’t had a single no so far. At first we were a little nervous when we were supposed to approach people, but that went away rather quickly when we found out how friendly everybody was.

This has been one of the most personal projects either of us has ever worked on. We got to know so many different personalities in such a short period of time. It gives us a great deal of pleasure to be the listeners that people need so often, and to give them the opportunity to speak about their goals, accomplishments, fears or just chat about everyday stuff. We have had some comical moments where a girl missed her bus talking to us, or other ones where we got to see some wonderful artwork done by one of the people we interviewed.

In the end, it’s all about the people who are in front of lens, not behind it. It is a great opportunity to show how diverse and beautiful people of Mizzou are, both inside and out. So, if a stranger approaches you on campus asking to talk to you and take a picture of you, don’t be afraid, we are not trying to sell anything or trying to get you to join any suspicious affairs. We just want to get to know you.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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