Friday, October 30, 2009
Ocotober 27 was the final day in our Read the World series and it certainly was a perfect way to end the community reading program. Allan Stratton, author of Chanda's Secrets, was here at our high school all day and made a powerful impression on our students. In the morning, Allan met with a Creative Writing class and a Dramatic Writing class. After reading an excerpt from Chanda's Secrets, he answered questions from students which varied from handling writer's block, his inspiration for the characters in Chanda's Secrets and Chanda's Wars, and the time and perseverance necessary in writing a novel.In the afternoon, Allan presented to all of our 9th grade students who are reading the novel with their English classes. I knew that his novel had made a powerful impression on the kids when I saw hands shooting up all over the auditorium - each student hoping that Allan would have time to address their question. Afterwards, many students approached him to ask him a question, sign a book, or simply to shake his hand and thank him for coming.
Later that night, he presented to a small audience which consisted of a few students, parents and community members who had read Chanda's Secrets as part of the Read the World program. Although the attendance was light, those there were very engaged and most lingered afterwards to chat with Allan and have him sign their books.
This is the first year of our community reading initiative which partners with the Free Library of New Hope and Solebury and the New Hope-Solebury Education Fund. The mission of the program is “one community, exploring cultural diversity, one book at a time.” This year we focused on the Sub-Saharan African region and four books were selected as recommended reads: Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton, What is the What by Dave Eggers, A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah and Brothers in Hope by Mary Williams.
In effort to educate our students and the community, each week in October we offered an event which focused on a cultural aspect of Sub-Sarahan Africa: an evening of Sudanese food, an African art sampler from the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Anthropology and Archeology, a percussion and a cappella workshop by Voices of Africa, a multi-media tour of Africa by National Geographic photographer, Bob Krist and, lastly, Allan Stratton's visit.
I am so very grateful to our New-Hope Solebury Education Fund committee for making Allan Stratton's visit possible and for supporting the Read the World program. I've heard so many positive remarks from students, teachers, parents, administrators and community members about the impact that Chanda's Secrets has had upon them, and about how the program, in general, has helped them to better understand this African region. One of the best comments came from a parent who told me that after her son saw Bob Krist's photographs of gorillas in Congo and heard about their threatened extinction, he went home and surfed the Internet to learn more about the illegal poaching of them. He also was so inspired by Chanda's Secrets that he went out on his own to purchase the sequel, Chanda's Wars. Another touching moment was to see a student walk up to Allan Stratton, shake his hand, and thank him for coming to our school. This same student came to me in the library this morning and thanked me for making Allan Stratton's visit possible. He, also, is one who went out to purchase his own copy of Chanda's Wars.
Another positive outcome of this whole project is a connection to a school in Namibia. Allan had put me in touch with a teacher there whose students were reading Chanda's Secrets, and who have experienced many of the issues that faced Chanda in the novel. This teacher is sending us videos of her students talking about the novel and describing their day-to-day life in their village. In turn, our students are donating their favorite books with a written inscription so that the Namibia school has some books in their fairly sparse library.
Hopefully we will get funding for Read the World next year, so that we can continue to focus on various cultural regions and offer some great presentations!
Friday, October 23, 2009
On October 20, professional photographer, Bob Krist, took the New Hope-Solebury community on a multi-media tour of Africa. Krist has taken photos for many travel publications, including National Geographic Traveler and Smithsonian. The presentation, held at the New Hope-Solebury Upper Elementary School, was hosted by Read the World. Read the World is a community reading initiative promoted by New Hope-Solebury High School, the Free Library of New Hope and Solebury and the New Hope-Solebury Education Fund. The mission of the program is “one community, exploring cultural diversity, one book at a time” and this year’s focus is Sub-Saharan Africa.
Krist presented photographs and videos from regions throughout Africa, and entertained the audience with interesting stories about each of the regions. He also spoke about Playpumps which provide clean drinking water to people living in Sub-Saran Africa. He and his wife, Peggy, have raised enough money to install a Playpump in Malawi through the Jonathan D. Krist Foundation. The foundation was established to honor the memory and charitable deeds of their son, Jonathan.
This presentation was the fourth in a series of Read the World events. The final event, on October 27th, will feature the author of Chanda’s Secrets, Allan Stratton. More information about Read the World can be found at http://www.nhs-read-the-world.com/.
Monday, October 19, 2009
On Tuesday evening, Read the World hosted Voices of Africa - an internationally acclaimed all-women's a cappella and percussion ensemble. It was a terrifically fun night for students of all ages as well as many parents and community members. Nana, the leader of the group, involved everyone in the audience in the performance. Every single participant was either singing, drumming and ringing bells to make beautiful, African music.
Friday, October 2, 2009
On October 1, the New Hope-Solebury community program, Read the World, hosted an evening of Sudanese food in the New Hope-Solebury High School Library. High school instructional assistant and Sudanese native, Sawsan Ahmed, presented Mulah Bamia, a popular Sudanese dish of okra and meat. People were invited to sample this and other dishes, and spoke to Ms. Ahmed about her background and culture.
Other upcoming events are
· Voices of Africa: An internationally acclaimed all-women's a cappella and percussion ensemble on Tuesday, October 13, 7:00pm in the High School Auditorium
· Bob Krist of National Geographic takes us on tour of Africa through his wonderful photographs on Tuesday, October 20, 7:00pm in the High School Auditorium
· Allan Stratton, author of Chanda’s Secrets, discusses his experiences in Africa on Tuesday, October 27, 7:00pm in the High School Auditorium
Read the World is a community reading initiative promoted by New Hope-Solebury High School, the Free Library of New Hope and Solebury and the New Hope-Solebury Education Fund. The mission of the program is “one community, exploring cultural diversity, one book at a time.” This year the focused region is Sub-Saharan Africa and four books have been selected as recommended reads: Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton, What is the What by Dave Eggers, A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah and Brothers in Hope by Mary Williams. More details can be found at www.nhs-read-the-world.com.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Use this post to respond to reading Brothers in Hope. Here are some discussion starters, but feel free to make any comments you like:
- Who is telling the story? Why is it so important that his story be told?
- What advice did Garang's father give him? How did that help Garang?
- Why did Garang come to the United States. Why might it be hard for Garang to adjust to life here?
Use this post to respond to reading What is the What. Here are some discussion starters, but feel free to make any comments you like:
- What is the significance of the title?
- Why does Valentino consider telling his story, or story telling in general, so important?
- What does the novel say about Sudanese national and cultural identify?
Use this post to respond to reading A Long Way Gone. Here are some discussion starters, but feel free to make any comments you like:
- What is the role of hope in Beah's story?
- What effect does the unusual kindness of the fisherman have on the boys?
- What is the role of Western culture, especially music, in Beah's life both before and after his role as a child soldier?