The Common Read Initiative Launches, Offering a Plethora of Dynamic Events

the_road_of_lost_innocenceInspiring lively discussions, making connections and building on an intellectually engaged community is the driving force of the Common Read Initiative, beginning Monday, March 17-April 3, 2014.

Some 1300 students, along with more than 35 faculty members from across the academic disciplines, are reading The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine, by Somaly Mam. The autobiography chronicles the experiences of a brave young woman who escapes a life of abuse and suffering and then uses her freedom to rescue hundreds of women and children trapped in similar situations.

Activities taking place during the first week–March 17- March 21– include two presentations on preventing bullying; the history of genocide in Asia, Africa and Europe; and a star-studded film documentary, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

Week two –March 24-28– features a lecture by Ivy Suriyopas, Staff Attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, who will discuss human trafficking as a violation of human rights. Also, Megan Rhoad, a researcher from the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch will address efforts to advocate for migrant women’s rights, and Sister Katie Hamm of Lifeway Network will outline strategies to combat human trafficking through safe housing and education.

Highlights of week three– March 31-April 4– include a visit by FBI Victim Specialist Laura Riso and Department of Homeland Security Specialist Tenaz Dubash who will present on the exploitation of minors in the sex trafficking trade and what is being done to support victims of this crime. Finally, New York State Senator Jose Peralta will visit the college to speak about trafficking issues in Queens and in the surrounding New York City area. Students are also invited to participate in a writing contest based on themes or events related to the book.

“I strongly believe that it is vital to involve our college community in co-curricular, cross-disciplinary events such as the Common Read,” said Susan Madera, Academic Program Manager- High Impact Practices. “The experience is important for many reasons, not the least of which is helping students have informed opinions about world issues. Moreover, the initiative is unique in the fact that it supports virtually all of the High Impact Practices, teaching modes considered most effective in improving student retention and timely graduation.