Grace Fan realized the broader potential of her communication skills when she was chatting recently with a student from Cape Elizabeth High School. She also has come to recognize the healing power of communication in her own life.

Fan met the Cape High student at a track meet. The girl mentioned the Facebook page that Fan created last fall, “Faces of Falmouth High School.” Fan has taken and posted hundreds of photos of fellow students and staff members, along with their answers to revealing questions.

“I guess I have quite the fan base in Cape Elizabeth,” said Fan, sounding baffled but proud. “The page is ‘liked’ by over 1,100 people, including faculty members, moms and dads, and people outside Falmouth.”

Capitalizing on her interest in photojournalism, Fan started the Falmouth High page as her senior project and modeled it after forerunners such as “Humans of New York.”

While Fan has been surprised by the page’s growing popularity, she’s also found solace in the habit of taking photos and asking questions and helping people get to know one another a little better.

“I went through a hard time last year,” Fan said, referring to a friend’s sudden death. “It impacted me a lot. It taught me about life and the importance that one person can have. I learned the value of the individual.”

The daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, Fan also was feeling a bit disconnected from her peers. While she has lots of friends, she felt her Asian ethnicity set her apart in a mostly white community. Working on the Facebook page minimized those differences.

“I found a kind of diversity in the individuals I photographed because each person is different,” Fan said. “I learned that it’s unfair to generalize because I found an incredible variety of interests and experiences. OK, I’m Asian and they’re white, but it doesn’t matter. I kind of melted the barriers, including those among students and teachers who often don’t get to know each other very well.”

Fan will attend Williams College in Massachusetts in the fall. She hasn’t settled on a major, but she knows what she wants to do.

“I’ve learned that small actions can make waves through a community,” Fan said. “I’m interested in people’s stories and I hope that stays with me throughout my life. I have a definite interest in humanity as a whole and I hope to connect people.”

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