The Human Library Has Arrived

The Human Library at Anvil Centre

What was it like to live in Saigon during the Vietnam War? How was life for a child living through two wars in Iran? And what was life like for the people who supported the war effort here and in the rest of Canada?  If you’ve ever wanted to sit down with a cup of tea for a chat with someone who’s lived through war and conflict, the Human Library is a chance for families and individuals to meet a person with these amazing experiences.  Visitors can ask questions about air raids, intercepting German messages, battle accounts, the war effort on the home front, and other stories.

Joey Le, a former oncologist and owner of Joey’s Video Stop on Twelfth Street in New Westminster, was only three years old when the Vi?t C?ng attacked Saigon, Vietnam for the first time. On the eve of a designated ceasefire in respect of Chinese New Year, Joey remembers explosions, power outages, neighbours screaming, and finding comfort in his grandmother’s arms. Years of bombings and military attacks convinced his family to move from Saigon, but they were too late. It was in the moment when he could hear the sound of tanks rolling down the street that Joey felt “the fear of what the future would be and what would happen to his family”. His family remained under communist rule for 7 years until his brother escaped to Canada and was able to sponsor his family to move. He now believes that this experience “allowed [him] to prepare for the future” and “find strength in the past”.

For three nights in a row, the bombing in London, UK during WWII, was so bad that Eileen Glavin only returned home from working in Lloyds of London atmidnight. She moved back home to Essex where she was called up to serve with the Air Force. “My parents knew I wouldn’t go overseas”, says Eileen, “but they weren’t pleased.” She trained for 6 weeks to be in the Y-Service and work as a wireless operator intercepting messages from U-Boats, planes, and from different countries. Working 10 minutes from Bletchly Park, the famous mansion where codebreakers worked to uncover enigma-encrypted communications, Eileen’s work was sworn to secrecy and her parents passed without ever knowing what she truly did during WWII.

Eleven local residents – many of whom reside in New Westminster – have signed up for the Human Library to tell their stories and answer questions. This special event, in partnership with The Memory Project facilitated by Historica Canada, is an informal way to highlight some of the exciting and sometimes tragic life experiences of local residents, as well as to give the younger generation an opportunity to hear amazing accounts firsthand.  

This all-ages special event happens at Anvil Centre on October 15, 2016 (1:00 – 3:00 pm, call (604) 527-4640 for more information and to register).