FSC introduces “Common Reading” experience to new students
LAKELAND, Fla. (Sept. 13, 2005) — Florida Southern College began its second year of assigning summer reading projects to new students. The college joins hundreds of academic institutions across the country in planning discussion groups and events among new students related to their common reading experience.
The Examined Life freshman seminar (EXL) introduced students to “The Kite Runner,” a best-selling novel by Afghan native Khaled Hosseini. “This book is one that students have really been able to sink their teeth into thanks to its layers of meaning and complexity,” said Dr. Marcie Pospichal, director of academic support services. Students debated the cultural and social issues affecting the book’s characters as well as the turmoil in Afghanistan today. “I have heard from both students and faculty that they thought it was an excellent choice for a Common Reading.”
Activities related to “The Kite Runner” were incorporated into the new-student orientation sessions and included building and decorating kites using themes and characters from the book. The best-decorated kites brought a Best of Art award to orientation groups 1 and 28 for their collaborative effort, and a Best Depiction of a Theme in “The Kite Runner” to group 27.
“Every response has been favorable to the orientation events surrounding ‘The Kite Runner,’” said Pospichal about her EXL class. “Each of my 20 students participated in the class discussion. Not everyone agreed with the opinion of others, but students shared their insights, ideas and questions in a lively yet respectful manner.”
Students’ comments on the EXL class and discussion groups have been positive. Freshman Megan Higbee, a business administration-finance major from Campbell, Calif., said, “Every student actively participated and wanted their opinions heard. Our class has so much diversity and different ways of thinking that it was interesting to hear their opinions towards the novel.”
Dr. Mary Pharr, professor of English, believes the reading assignment has brought out the best in the college’s new students. “The students in this initial discussion class were both enthusiastic and perceptive,” she says. “They suggested symbolic readings of the kite game in the novel that I certainly hadn’t thought of before.”
As part of its Founders Week Celebration in March, Florida Southern has invited the book’s author to visit the college on March 22. Hosseini will meet with EXL students and their professors and give a presentation for the campus and guests.
Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1965. His family relocated to Paris in 1976 where his father was assigned to the Afghan embassy. In 1980 the family asked for political asylum in the U.S. following the communist takeover and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Hosseini moved to San Jose, Calif., with his family, graduated from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, and currently practices as an internist.
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