During a conversation I recently had with him, Aidan Paggao said, “I wanted to do something that was bigger than myself.”
That’s why the junior marketing major turned to the Internet this winter break and created a “Humans of West Chester” project.
He was inspired by “The Humans of New York” blog, which began in 2010 by Brandon Stanton. “Humans Of New York” photographs different people from around the city, asking them intimate questions pertaining to their lives. It gives people from around the world a peek into the lives of strangers.
Inspired by this, Paggao created his own spin on the popular blog. The blog is more than just pictures and stories. It connects us to each other.
“It’s piggybacked off of ‘Humans of New York,’ and what I see it as is a movement. It’s a social media movement. For example, us, we go to WCU. Most of us won’t even go into the town. We won’t know anything about the town, the stores, or the people. That’s kind of what “Humans of New York” is. It’s people passing by and no one knows each other, it’s that mentality and that’s what he [Stanton] started. It just slows it down. You get to know everyone, story by story. Random people, but it’s interesting. It shows that all of us have gone through things or have interesting things to say. It’s not all about you,” he said.
So how does he do it? Paggao goes into town and his strategy for success is first to take a picture of people, then he talks to them. First, he gives them an overview as to what he is doing. He wants everything to be as candid as possible, so he comes up with his questions on the spot. The interviews last around five minutes and are recorded like a regular press interview.
There will be some struggles along the way, such as the weather and people who don’t want to participate, but Paggao’s determination will override the adversity.
Though the project is new, Paggao knows that it will do a lot in uniting students across our university.
“What I’ve gathered from ‘Humans of New York’ is that the same thing is going on in West Chester. Everyone has a story. This movement is something to connect us students to our town, to get to know each other. It’s not just a place for bars,” Paggo said.
The project is just beginning. To see Paggao’s work, go to facebook.com/humansofwcpa or follow it on Instagram at @humans_of_west_chester.
Amanda Saleh is a second-year student majoring in environmental health. She can be reached at AS821872@wcupa.edu.