Humans of McKendree Project

The Humans of McKendree Project is based off Brandon Stanton’s famous photograph project, Humans of New York. Its purpose is to foster greater understanding, new relationships, and awareness within and about the McKendree University community. In a world with what feels like increased divisiveness and dismissive categorization and labels of others, it is essential and even counter-cultural to embrace an understanding of people as multifaceted, dynamic beings. Storytelling is a compelling, powerful entry point that offers a way for us to both challenge stereotypes and embrace the varied, yet familiar nature of the human experience. As American psychologist Carl Rogers once said, “What is most personal is most universal.” The project aims to share the voices of many, with special emphasis on those who may be most on the margins.

The project was launched during Global Awareness Week (April 2018) and will continue with periodic stories through each year. Much like Humans of New York, each vignette will include a photograph and personal narrative about one of our community members. We invite everyone to engage with the project, read the stories, and embrace the vibrant, diverse stories of who and what we are as a community.


Below are a few stories from our campus. Please like, share, and follow more of our stories on our Humans of McKendree Facebook Page!



“My family is almost like a big friend group. A lot of people aren’t close to their first cousins and stuff, but we grew up as next-door neighbors. My mom and aunt boughZach Stengert houses right next to each other because they wanted to stay close. Even though I am the oldest in my family it was almost like I had an older sister and brother with my two cousins next door. It’s part of why I hold myself to such high standards. I always wanted to be like them and to not be in the shadow or the let down. I wanted to be bigger and better than the person before me, so I pushed myself in school. Hopefully it’s what my brothers do without even thinking about it. I’ve always tried to show them an example. If I’m not the best I can be it shows my little brothers that they don’t have to be their best. I feel like everything I did when I was younger was to help them push themselves even if they didn’t realize it because my cousins did that for me.



“Before going to Nicaragua, I had been in the Dominican Republic twice for mission trips. On these Hanna Dobsontrips we built relationships with the people, but it was mostly going in and building buildings for them or fixing up things. On the other hand, the trips to Nicaragua were immersion trips, so it was more focused on getting to know their culture, history, and people. At first I was very closed off and not open to the experience; it just wasn’t what I was used to. But it was probably the best experience of my life. I think getting immersed into a culture and learning about a culture helps you appreciate the culture and world better. It helps you understand the struggles that those people have gone through and also helps you make relationships and see how you are connected and go through the same struggles, even though you are countries a part. Reyna was our translator for both trips. I got the privilege of rooming with her my second time there. Reyna is one of the most genuine, nicest, sweetest people I have ever met. She was like a mom to me in Nicaragua when we were there. We created this bond so fast, and she was very open to all of my questions and curiosity. I remember the first night I was just so interested and curious about her life and who she was as a person, so we talked a lot. She was open about all her life experiences and struggles with me, too. She talked about the struggles of her being a woman and what her family has gone through. We created a really strong bond and still talk today. I just think it’s cool because Between Cultures, the program we went through, is about empowering people, and it’s about binding those different cultures together.”



"The world needs to be a little more patient. I needed to wait for things to happen. Obviously you need to look for it, too, but not force something to happen. I think that we need to leave technology aside a bit for what binds us to a very real world and spend time together with family members. To enhance my relationships with my family, I have talked with my parents. We go walking or do something different that creates a legacy without a cell phone or computer or something like that. I think we also need to do more service in our communities. But we need to do this a little more without crazy incentives like extra money. It has to come from the heart and be a gesture of altruism."Ariel Cardozo

“El mundo necesita ser un poco más paciente, necesita bajar un poco de revolución. Obviamente, es importante ir en busca de lo que deseamos, pero la idea es que se dé sin tener que forzar a que ocurra. Yo necesité esperar a que las cosas pasen. Forzar a que ocurra eso que deseaba sólo me llevó a que esa situación no se diera o a que se dé, pero no de la mejor manera.
Otro aspecto importante que cambiar es el de nuestra dependencia de la tecnología. Debemos buscar la manera de dejar esa dependencia y fortalecer la comunicación con nuestros familiares y amigos, que es lo que en verdad importa y queda en la memoria. Caminatas, reuniones, y otras actividades con los familiares y amigos es la manera que encontré para fortalecer esas relaciones con ellos sin necesidad de utilizar en exceso el celular.
También debemos participar en actividades como servicios comunitarios. Estas actividades nos ayudan a conocer personas de diferentes clases sociales y a aprender algo nuevo de ellos. Lo importante es que el deseo de realizar actividades como el servicio comunitario sea algo que salga del corazón; que sea un gesto de altruismo, y no sólo algo que hagamos por incentivo económico.”



“I live my life believing every friend I have is my friend for a reason whether I know it or not. I have a friend named Mya. When we first started out I wanted to be her boyfriend. It didn’t work out. I was Human of McKendreelike, okay cool. So be it. I’ma still be your best friend because I think you’re really cool. Being her friend, I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to enjoy myself. I can actually be alone now and be okay with it. From other friends, I’ve learned how to dress better or from another friend I learn something else. I learn something from everyone I meet, and it no longer becomes about a monumental moment. I learn lessons from Ted Talks a lot. Or sometimes it’s really random moments. Like one sentence that really resonates with me. I love having meaning in everything that happens. Whenever something bad happens, I’m like, ‘why did this happen? What can I learn from it?’ And sometimes things happen and you don’t always need to have an answer. I’m trying to get better at it thinking that way, but I still want that meaning. I think maybe it originates from spirituality, for me. Everything happens in its own season.”



“It’s so hard to let yourself be human. I hate feeling weak. I know hate is a strong word, Human of McKendreebut I really do hate feeling weak. That’s why I don’t open up much or show my weaknesses much. But lately I’ve been talking to people about their issues. I tell them that it’s okay to have a moment of vulnerability. Feel how you feel. It’s okay to feel down. God gave us feelings and we’re entitled to them. It’s crazy how I can tell someone that, but I can’t do that for myself. Sometimes we give the advice we need to other people.”




Paisley“Scott will always be a part of my life because I lived 22 very great, very experienced years in that time. I mean, 22 years of my life doesn’t just disappear or go away. Becoming Paisley wasn’t me starting over, it was just me starting a new chapter, starting a better portion of my life story, being able to be who I want to in this time, and just making my life better. Not rewriting it, not redoing it, nothing about that. Those experiences are who I am, and it shaped who I am. So even if Paisley was deep down in there, it doesn’t change that Scott was on the surface, and that he also lived a life.”