Image courtesy of amazon.com

By Cassie LeBel

For nearly 10 years the ‘One College, One Book’ program at Cape Cod Community College (4Cs) has offered students an opportunity to read a book alongside members of their community as well as take an interest in follow-up events centered around discussing the themes of the chosen novel.

“I like the one book program because it encourages students to read for pleasure…” said James Kershner, a long-time professor at 4Cs. “I’m finding fewer and fewer students read for fun and I’m glad this program encourages it.”

Past novels have included ‘The Glass Castle’ by Jeannette Walls, ‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir- in which a NASA astronaut came and spoke to the school- and most recently, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime’ by Mark Haddon. This story by Haddon about a 15-year old boy with autism lead to many powerful events on campus including a stage-play production of the book that Kershner called “the finest dramatic presentation I’ve seen at 4Cs, in twenty years.”

A workshop was also held by guest-speaker and special education professor Dr. Stephen Shore, who helped educate the 4Cs faculty on ways to better teach students with autism.

“In this digital age, it’s difficult to remind students how powerful a book can be,” said Kershner. “Books can change people’s lives.”

This semester the 4Cs One Book committee has chosen the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning novel, ‘Enrique’s Journey’ by journalist Sonia Nazario. This book explores the trials of a young Honduran boy as he braves the voyage to the United States to find his mother, 11 years after she had to leave her family in order to better provide for them.

“It’s a compelling story,” said Cindy Pavlos, chair of the One Book committee. “It doesn’t have a happy ending because immigration stories often don’t, but it’s a true story.”

Immigration is an ongoing issue in the United States. If the word ‘immigration’ is googled, a multitude of fresh news reports on the subject will flood the search engine, with many stories less than 24-hours old.

“I know that people have strong feelings about immigration at the southern border right now because it’s so much in the news,” said Pavlos “But this story of a 14-year old who’s fleeing extreme poverty and looking for his mother might be a story that resonates with people and helps them to see an individual’s story through different eyes. And that might help them see the whole crisis, the current crisis.”

The hope is that by encouraging students to read a book surrounding this pressing topic through the perspective of someone who has experienced the trials of immigration firsthand, that it will open their eyes to a wider viewpoint within this subject.

“The interesting thing,” said Pavlos. “The sad, but interesting thing is that it was written in 2006 and now, 13 years later, it’s as current an event as it was the year it was written.”

There are many events surrounding this book that are being put into place across campus.

The first event is a read-aloud of the novel itself which will take place on September 25 and September 26 from 9 AM – 3 PM in the Grossman Cafeteria. All who are interested are invited to stop by and listen in for as long as they would like, or even read a passage from the work themselves if they choose.

Other events include a potential story-telling workshop in which students would be granted the liberty to write out personal stories of immigration, whether that be through their own experiences or that of a relative.

A film series surrounding stories of immigration from “different countries, different perspectives and different viewpoints” is also in the works. Motion-pictures such as ‘Moscow on the Hudson’ starring Robin Williams and ‘Brooklyn’- the story of an Irish immigrant moving to New York in the 1950’s- are in consideration for the series.

“Books and films open your mind to different ways of thinking, different perspectives and helping to see things through someone else’s eyes.”

Free copies of ‘Enrique’s Journey’ are available to be signed out of the Wilken’s library. Students are highly encouraged to not only read this year’s One Book, but to also attend the follow-up events in place to continue the discussion.