An exclusive interview with the freshman behind People of BU
‘I am genuinely fascinated by our similarities and differences, the things that make us individuals’
Most, if not all, of us are familiar with Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York blog and bestselling book which features portraits and interviews of people on the streets of New York City.
Brandon provided a medium for these featured individuals to share their stories and opinions to a broad audience of more than 16 million followers on Facebook alone.
The stories of complete strangers somehow managed to touch us all, as we found ourselves blinking away tears – whether they were tears of humor or pangs of sympathy at someone else’s pain.
However, it’s unlikely that we’d ever get to meet these faces of New York Brandon shows us. But in a much smaller community close to home, this is made possible.
Nairobi Jeanniton, a freshmen studying in the College of Arts and Sciences, has taken on Brandon’s work here in our very own BU community.
Her Facebook page, titled People of BU, currently has close to 400 likes and an actively growing follower base. The page currently featured 17 Terriers and their stories are on display for everyone to read and comment on.
What inspired you to want to begin this project?
Brandon Stanton’s work on Humans of New York first planted that seed for me. Despite our assumptions about how people live, everyone truly does have their own stories. I thought that making this page would really solidify the idea of BU as a big and diverse community. I enjoy meeting new people and talking about different ways of living so as a new student this was a great mechanism for me to interact with everyone.
Do you do this completely on your own or with a team?
Right now I do this on my own. Like an art project it’s a way for me to communicate what I see and hear in conversations to those in the BU community.
Would you consider making it a group or activity here at BU?
There are many components of this page that make it what it is – the questions I ask, the way that I speak to people and the photographs I take all contribute to the personality of the page. Involving others in a group like format compromises that personality and for that reason I want to keep it an individual job.
What’s the most interesting story you’ve heard so far?
I could subjectively choose a story that really made me think or surprised me about someone’s life, but that’s not the point. I am engrossed in every story because I am genuinely fascinated by our similarities and differences… the things that make us individuals. Something I find extremely interesting may not come across the same way to another reader and for that reason I refrain from choosing the most interesting story.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
The page has only been around for so long but I’d say it was figuring out how to individualize my page – one that wasn’t like the original Humans of Boston University.
I hear you had some complications with the other Humans of BU, how did that work out?
My page was initially called Humans of BU. There is another page called Humans of Boston University. I wanted to create my own page, it was as simple as that. I acknowledge that I stepped on some toes because I infringed on the creative space of the original page. I believed that my page stylistically could never mimic that of the other page, therefore we were different. In order to alleviate the tension I changed the name of my page to People of BU and changed the format thereby creating some tangible differences between our pages.
Where do you see this page and yourself in four years?
In four years I see myself graduating and passing the page down to someone I feel is passionate about the page.