Chronicle of child soldier chosen as Syracuse University’s 2008 Shared Reading title
Chronicle of child soldier chosen as Syracuse University’s 2008 Shared Reading titleOctober 31, 2007Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
“A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” by Ishmael Beah has been selected as the title for the 2008 Syracuse University Shared Reading Program.
The book was selected by Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric F. Spina on the recommendation of a review committee of faculty and staff members. Beah will visit campus Sept. 22-23, 2008; he will deliver the Milton First-Year Lecture on Sept. 22 and a lecture on Sept. 23 in a joint presentation of The University Lectures and the 2008 Syracuse Symposium, presented by The College of Arts and Sciences.
“Next year’s shared reading selection opens a window onto a world rife with unspeakable violence and hardship brought on by civil war,” says Spina. “Ishmael Beah’s journey, from a boy soldier to an advocate for global humanity, brings a powerful message to our students on the resilience of the human spirit. We hope Beah will inspire our students to be advocates for humanity in their own right.”
In the book, a story of redemption and hope, Beah chronicles his life during the early and mid-1990s, as civil war ravaged his homeland, the West African nation of Sierra Leone. At age 12, Beah fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By age 13, he’d been picked up by the government army and made into a boy soldier. A gentle boy at heart, Beah found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. Eventually released by the army and sent to a UNICEF rehabilitation center, Beah struggled to regain his humanity and to re-enter the world of civilians.
Beah moved to the United States in 1998 and finished his last two years of high school at the United Nations International School in New York City. He graduated from Oberlin College in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Now 26, he is a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division Advisory Committee and has spoken before the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory and many other non-governmental organization panels on children affected by war. His work has appeared in Vespertine Press and LIT magazine. He currently lives in New York City.
The Syracuse University Shared Reading Program was created to give new and first-year students a common, memorable first-year experience. Now in its sixth year, the program has evolved to become an opportunity for students new to Syracuse University to experience the core values of Scholarship in Action: academic excellence, interdisciplinary inquiry and engagement with the world.
The SU Bookstore will mail copies of the book to all new and first-year students, who are expected to read the book before their arrival and to participate in lectures, discussions and related assignments as part of Syracuse Welcome 2008 and throughout the academic year. The shared reading program, led by the Office of Academic Affairs, is part of Syracuse Welcome, the University’s signature program for new students.
All faculty members are encouraged to integrate the book and its themes into courses for first-year students. The SU Library staff will gather research materials and locate them on their website to assist instructors and students in exploring topics and themes related to the book.