Literature takeover: memoir echos lesson

Malala Yousafzai’s advocacy for girls’ education resulted in her getting shot in the head when she was 15. Four years later, she continues to speak up for human rights and her impact has made its way across the world to Pierce in the form of her memoir.

“I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai is this year’s reading choice for One Book One Campus (OBOC).

OBOC is a Pierce program that aims to get the entire campus reading and discussing the same book. The program encourages all departments to lead or participate in events surrounding the theme of the selected material.

English Professor Maria Bates thinks the program will inspire students to discuss their reactions to the book with teachers and other students.

The theme of this year’s book and campus event is gender, according to Bates.

“The objective is to encourage interaction between all participants,” Bates, whose English classes are reading “I Am Malala”, said. “To create a deeper sense of college community by providing opportunities for people to share their insights, stories, and talents with each other.”

According to Outreach Librarian Lisa Valdez, several copies of the book are being given away to students who are enrolled in a class that requires the text.

Students can go to the library and present their student I.D. and their class syllabus stating the book as a required text. The library will continue to give away copies of the book until supplies last.

Valdez said there is a lot of participation in the program this year compared to last.

“Last year it was mostly the English department, but this year we have English, sociology, history, E.S.L., the international students too, I think,” Valdez said. “We just really want to promote the program and get as many students to participate as possible. It’s a very important topic we’re exploring with this book.”

According to Bates, the library selects potential books and consults with the Pierce Diversity Committee and the Theater Arts Department to decide which book will be chosen as the year’s OBOC feature.

“‘I am Malala’ was selected because it highlights a young girl whose commitment and vision made a difference and is internationally recognized as a hero,” Bates said.

Pierce student Jennifer Martinez finished reading “I am Malala” a few weeks ago after seeing a display at the library promoting the book.

“I’m not in an English class right now, so I’m not reading it as a requirement or anything,” Martinez said. “I saw the poster at the library and I’d always heard about the movie and the book, so I thought I should check it out and read it since other people would be, too.”

According to Valdez, there are many thematically related events on campus this fall.

The next big event related to OBOC is coming to the Art Gallery.

An art exhibit titled “Women Hold Up Half the Sky”, organized by The Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, will be featured at the Pierce Art Gallery from Nov. 1- Dec. 18 as a companion to the themes discussed in “I Am Malala”.

Bates said OBOC started last year as an equity grant written by the Pierce Diversity Committee, English department, and library.

A new book is chosen each fall semester.

Last year’s book was “Operation Homecoming” edited by Andrew Carroll,  a collection of memoirs from veterans in Afghanistan and Iraq.