Human Touch

By Thomas Hiura ’17

Inspired by the hugely popular blog Humans of New York, Thomas Hiura ’17 (Eugene, Ore.) started Humans of Carleton on Facebook in January. During winter term, he posted 50 photos, each with an excerpt from a conversation he had with the student or staff member featured. With close to 2,500 followers already, Hiura plans to continue posting indefinitely. Here are some of our favorite posts, with excerpts from the accompanying text. But first, a few words from the page’s creator:

Humans of Carleton began out of my desire to get to know people here on a deeper level. One of Carleton’s greatest assets is that students don’t need to brag or one-up each other. Instead, we tend to accept that everyone here is pretty cool. I hear people talking all the time about friend-crushes—someone you’re fascinated with or deeply interested in, but not in a romantic way. By the start of winter term, I had developed several friend-crushes on campus.

“I discovered Humans of New York while perusing Facebook on a Sunday night in January. I was captivated. With a simple picture and a quote, HONY gives people a window into the lives of people in New York City. I knew that a similar project could thrive at Carleton, and that it would give me an excellent way to approach people. It’s easier to ask ‘Hey, can I interview you for a project I’m doing?’ than to say ‘Hey, you’re really cool. Will you tell me about your life?’

“The stories I’ve shared on the page are diverse: some are lighthearted, some are deeply personal, and some are merely a few words. I feel a sense of emotional attachment to all of them. I am honored to provide a platform for members of the Carleton community to be inspired by others and for people to share their narratives, because storytelling is an essential part of building community.

“This project led to one of the most Carleton things ever: some friends of mine made a parody of the page called Aliens of Carleton. Check it out.

Visit Humans of Carleton.


"I grew up in Texas. But it wasn’t just Texas. It was Nowhere, Texas. And I did things like making friends with African Americans and not being Christian that made me different from most of the kids in town. It was tough.

“I think I mostly joined rugby just to spite my mom. I went to practice and didn’t even like it that much. But one day, I was in Sayles looking for a place to sit, and I saw Andrew Shulman [’14]. . . . I’m a measly little freshman, but he saw me, and he was with a group of people I didn’t know. And he introduced me as a rugger. We had only spoken once, but that was enough for him to call me one of his own. Where I grew up, I had never been a part of anything. I never belonged [to] something. Coming to Carleton was the first time . . . a group presented itself and instantly took me in. You know, for years and years, I’d hated everyone around me. I’d been taught that humans are the things that will inflict the most pain on me. And yet here I am today, and I trust every one of these men on my team. These guys will be my friends for the rest of my life.”

—Anthony Cava ’16 (Haslet, Tex.) 


Carlie: “I made the first move!"

Lee: “Right, you invited me to your room, and we were kicking it there, and we ended up talking until like six in the morning. She was just telling me all about herself, and I was like, ‘Oh. I like this.’ ”

—Carlie Marsha Marina Joseph ’17 (Chicago) and Lee Gonzalez ’16 (Chicago)


“I’d say the toughest part of my job is planning for the real long run: trying to make decisions that people 50 years from now will look back on and say, ‘They got that one right.’ ”

—Steve Poskanzer, president, Carleton College


“My mom was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer when I was 11. That’s been a huge defining element of my life. It was a very slow-growing cancer, and my mom is just the most optimistic person that I’ve ever met. She was really a superwoman and the greatest person that I’ve ever known. She was always smiling. For the longest time, she would say, ‘I don’t have cancer. I have a cancer. This doesn’t define me, it’s not who I am, it’s something that I’m gonna beat.’ . . .

“She died almost nine months ago now, and that’s changed everything about my life. Nothing can be the same anymore. . . . I’m working on making a new normal, because the
old normal doesn’t exist anymore.”

—Brie Farley ’14 (Brighton, Colo.)


"Tell me about the happiest time from your childhood."

“My dad used to work at the UN Staff College in Torino, Italy. I was an only child, so I used to play by myself and ride my bike through the trees. When you’re alone like that, you can imagine anything. Anything’s possible. Looking through those pine trees [and] seeing a stray sneaker, I would imagine I was a CSI investigator. People really want to be social, but it’s all right to be alone once in a while.”

—Tiffany Thet ’17 (Yangon, Myanmar)


“Aikido has helped me balance all the conflicting parts of my life and bring an inner harmony into everything I do, which sounds ridiculously cheesy. Also, I get to play with pointy sticks and roll around with chill people, so what’s not to love?”

—Maddy Cosgriff ’17 (Merion Station, Pa.)


“What’s your favorite thing about Carleton?”

Suhail: “It’s definitely not the cold. Everyone’s nice. And Wanchen!!”

Wanchen: “Suhail! I love Suhail!”

—Wanchen Yao ’17 (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) and Suhail Thandi ’17 (Gurgaon, India)


"In middle school and high school I wasn’t, like, that one guy that everyone hung out with. But coming to Carleton, I got such a great influx of friends. So on Saturday nights, I go [out] with friends, and I always hear, “Hey, what’s up!” I can’t go anywhere without being noticed by somebody. And I like that.”

—Jonathan Harris ’17 (Charlotte, N.C.)


"Family is very important to me. My parents and sister and I are a very close, tight-knit family, and leaving them has been kind of hard. Back home in Sri Lanka I always have them to rely on when I need them. But . . . there are people here who are almost like my family, too. It’s so weird to think that we’ve made these connections in less than three years, because I have so many people here I can actually look at and say, ‘Oh yeah, he’s my brother. She’s my sister.’ ”

—Hiyanthi Peiris ’15 (Colombo, Sri Lanka)  


"No caption needed."

L-R: Gregory Michel ’14 (Washington, D.C.), Ian MacEneany ’17 (Duluth, Minn.), Erik Madsen-Bond ’14 (Cambridge, Mass.), and Carlton Keedy ’14 (Marion, Iowa) 


“This is Stewart. I got to take him home over break, and my family just fell in love with him. So after break, my mom would call me and ask, ‘How’s my Stewart doing? Send me a picture of him so I can frame it!’ And I would say, ‘Mom, you never ask for a picture of me!’ ”

—Richa Sharma ’14 (Roseville, Minn.)


  • June 20 2014 at 12:04 pm
    A Bay Area Carl

    These are wondeful photos, thank you for this piece. I do have to say this: Carlie and Lee are the cutest damn couple I have ever seen. Y'all make my teeth hurt, you're so sweet.

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