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A Look at Serena Nappa’s “Humans of Park Ridge”

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Humans of New York was started in 2010 by Brandon Stanton. It is a photo-blog and book that features street portraits and interviews that have been collected on the streets of New York City. Serena Nappa, a senior at Park Ridge High School, was inspired by Humans of New York and decided to create a version of this here at Park Ridge High School. She called this spin-off, “Humans of Park Ridge.” Serena goes around the school and sparks a conversation with random people of the Park Ridge High School community, whether she knows them personally or not. Serena captures a picture of the person she is interviewing in order to represent their conversation, and the mood of it. She also pulls a quotation from their conversation that shows the viewer a little glimpse of the in-depth conversation that she and her subject shared.

Serena has been following the Humans of New York accounts on social media for a while, and was really interested in the idea talking to people and getting a story out of them. The creator of Humans of New York was able to dig deep into people and find out ordinary things about people that made them so special that just a glimpse of the outside of them would not tell you. The project emphasizes how unique and different everyone is from one another. You get to learn that everyone has a story, sometimes one that no one knows but them. Serena stated, “Despite everyone knowing each other in Park Ridge, people still do not truly know much about each other. I want to try and bring out the unique qualities in each person, and show students how special their peers really are.”


Bravery plays a large part in the process of finding out a story about someone. Going up to a stranger and trying to find out personal things about their life is a very intimidating job to have to do. Serena confessed that “the initial going up to someone and talking to them is the hardest part. It is so incredibly intimidating. There is always the fear of being rejected initially, but then throughout the conversation, I want to make sure I am getting enough content to choose from, but I also do not want to cross any lines.” It is quite remarkable how a student is able to open up about a personal subject, after being asked such vulnerable questions. Serena gets the chance to know people in a different, more intimate way. Her ability to not come off too strong of nosey, allows these students to feel a connection with her and her welcoming personality. It is hard to know when to back off a little bit because of a person’s comfort level, but Serena does an amazing job of knowing when someone does not want to share any more information.

With every story in both Human of Park Ridge and Humans of New York, there is always a picture documenting the encounter and physically manifesting a person to the story. The picture does an amazing job of capturing just a glimpse of how vulnerable the person telling their story feels, but also how amazing they feel knowing that someone cares about their story. We are all human and all have a story of our own. Humans of New York reflects that in a way that reaches thousands of people. Serena’s goal is to reach the hundreds of people in the Park Ridge community, because it takes a small start to make a huge difference.

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A Look at Serena Nappa’s “Humans of Park Ridge”