What was on your wish-list when you came to college? Did you have any expectations for your future college life? These feelings are probably related to your yearning to be in a relationship with someone or to start networking with new people at a new place. However, individualism is just too rampant throughout university culture and it inevitably collides with your anticipation about what college life will be like. College is no longer a place where you can feel the thrill of meeting new people and experience mass camaraderie.
Countless people have become annoyed trying to talk to strangers or even with shallow passing conversations. Despite all this, here are some HUFSans who believe there is something to learn from every passerby in people’s lives and try to connect with people through interviews. These people call themselves the Humans of HUFS after the independent interview media, the Humans of New York. Launched in October 2016, the Humans of HUFS have been asking questions and sharing the stories of HUFSans with cameras and recorders. The Argus met the Humans of HUFS.
The Argus: Please introduce the Humans of HUFS.
Lee: The Humans of HUFS is an independent media creation of HUFS, which is designed to capture and share the natural daily routines of everyone who is involved in HUFS, and not just the one percent of individuals with special track records. A total of 20 people comprised of an editor, seven interviewers, six translators and six photographers came together to form the group during the second semester of 2016. Although the roles are divided, there are no clear boundaries. Even if you hold an interview, you can translate interviews, and even if you are responsible for translating, you can also photograph them. The group has not confirmed that it is an official club, but we have a regular meeting once a week.
The Argus: We wonder what caused Humans of HUFS to form.
Lee: The model that was used as our benchmark is simple. It is a form of online journalism called Humans of New York that I usually subscribe to use it as a model. Our organization was born in the hopes that there would someday be such a media outlet in our school. I started with eight of my acquaintances who were interested in this work on Oct.16, 2016.
The Argus: Describe the process of the interviews.
Lee: We conduct two kinds of interviews. One is an interview in which the interviewers and interviewees pre-schedule. The other type is where random interviews are conducted with anyone passing through HUFS. Through the Kakao Talk group messenger, one interviewer and one photographer form a group to get an interview. After the interview, the interviewers choose the most impressive story to write up and publish for people to read. The photographer edits the pictures that are taken of the interviewee. The translator then translates articles written in Korean by the interviewers. An interview is completed when an editor examines and finally publishes the article on social media.
The Argus: Usually, reporters interview people who accomplish something or are special, but Humans of HUFS chooses to document the lives of ordinary people. We wonder why.
Kim: I think this a unique feature of the Humans of HUFS, which is distinct from other sources of media. I think we should not just talk about celebrities, but every individual has their own unique life and stories. Also, there are some people who say that they are ordinary or have nothing to say. When conducting any interview, I choose normal people because I feel a reward when they tell me about their stories and distant memories.
The Argus: Who was the most memorable interviewee?
Lee: I remember the kids who were the first interviewees for Humans of HUFS. I started an interview with some elementary school kids who were playing, and I listened to their child-like stories. I tried to give them advice as a life memento in return. I also interviewed Professor Shaun Manning, who taught me, when I heard that he had been receiving chemo treatments over the course of two years. I was surprised because of the enthusiasm that he always showed me even though he was sick. I then realized that I do not really know anybody. Every time I meet someone, I realize new facts and find new worlds.
Sim: I am in charge of translation, but I have only once conducted an interview. When I discovered that someone who took photos around HUFS was involved in the Vietnam War, I was surprised because I was born and raised in Vietnam. It was an opportunity to discover a new world through another person.
The Argus: What was the most difficult duty for you as a part of your club activities?
Sim: When I identify a new word while working on translating an interview, I find it difficult to understand what interviewee says.
Kim: I find it particularly difficult to translate Korean elements into appropriate English expressions such as appointment, MT and OT.
Kang: Interviewing does not work as well as you think. Coming up with the right question is particularly hard.
Jeong: I feel the limits of the ability to naturally lead conversations when doing interviews. I think it is very difficult to communicate here.
Jeong: When I talk to interviewees, I feel it is difficult when there are some areas in which I think differently.
Kim: Because the pictures are greatly influenced by the weather, I feel bad when I take bad pictures. Plus, many people are reluctant to being photographed.
The Argus: What does it mean for you to interview other people? I wonder what you learn and feel doing interviews.
Lee: Anyone who stands on a stage being caught in the spotlight or being put on camera becomes the main attraction. I think an interview is the same. Through interviews, we can discover something special in ourselves and we all can be the main characters of our own lives.
Kim: I think I will continue this work because I feel rewarded when interviewees like the photos that I took and discover their unknown features. And I believe that there is a special story for everyone. I think an interview is a forum in which to discover something special that we do not know about ourselves. It was a great opportunity for me to listen to other people’s experiences and stories which can help us look at life with greater insight.
The Argus: Do you have any future plans?
Lee: We plan to have exhibitions of the interviews that have been conducted around the time of the festival in May. We have plans to interview other university press editors to share ideas. Our future goal is to interview more workers, including the workers at the school cafeteria.
Jeong: I would like to feel touched by the interviews with other people when I read them.
The Argus: What is the final goal that Humans of HUFS has?
Lee: I hope we can blur the boundaries between people through interviews. Our goal is to become a formal club and interview more systematically.
The Argus: Lastly, please say a few last words to HUFSans and The Argus readers.
Lee: We have received much attention since we started. But there are still lots of people who do not know about Humans of HUFS. Since it is the only interview club in Korea, it would be great if you have high expectations for us.
We often think that an interview shines a spotlight only on the extraordinary lives of the one percent. However, the reporters of Humans of HUFS have new ideas about interviews. They make the lives of interviewees special by conducting interviews and by listening to their stories. This is the philosophy that they have about interviews. It is hard to share the stories of ordinary people with a lot of people. It is never easy to make readers sympathize with others who have never thought about themselves.
However, the activities of the Humans of HUFS that give a special meaning to someone’s life are more precious and valuable these days. The main point of this article is not only about the Humans of HUFS. Rather, the main point is that we all have our own special stories as Humans of HUFS.
By Moon Chae-un, Park Beom-ju Cub Reporters