Members of the public are invited to join California State University, Northridge’s incoming freshmen as they take on “One Amazing Thing” as part of the university’s 2012-2013 Freshman Common Reading Program.
The book’s author, Chitra Divakaruni, a professor of creative writing at the University of Houston, has been invited to welcome Cal State Northridge’s first-year students at the university’s annual Freshman Convocation on Thursday, Sept. 6.
“One thing that makes the book special is the main character, Uma Sinha,” said English professor Cheryl Spector, director of CSUN’s Academic First Year Experiences program. “While she is as frightened as the others, she is also very observant, and she feels quite certain that—as she says—‘Everyone has a story… I don’t believe anyone can go through life without encountering at least one amazing thing.’”
Spector said incoming freshmen, and members of the public, are invited to read the book and to discuss it as part of a campus-wide community of readers that includes faculty, staff and fellow students.
“The Common Reading allows us all to think, talk and learn together across and beyond the boundaries of any single classroom,” Spector said. “When you think about the book, one of its guiding principles is that everyone has a story—something we want our freshmen to understand about themselves and about their classmates so that they look forward to discovering the remarkable people they will encounter here at Northridge and later, after they graduate.”
Another lesson Spector hopes readers will take away is that life, like “One Amazing Thing,” is an “open-ended story.”
“Not to give anything away,” she said, “but this is one of those books that does not tie everything up neatly at the end. So, too, with education. Our students will find that when you finish a course or a semester, you’re not done. There’s always more to learn,” Spector said.
The book’s themes will be underscored when Divakaruni takes the stage in front of the Delmar T. Oviatt Library on Sept. 6 to give the keynote address at the Freshman Convocation.
First-year students have been invited to assemble at 5 p.m. in Matador Square on the east side of the Oviatt Library. From the square, they will march down Matador Walk to the Oviatt Lawn. CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison will lead the procession in full academic regalia along with formally robed university vice presidents, deans and associate deans of each college, and all department chairs.
Divakaruni is an award-winning author, poet and teacher. Her themes include women, immigration, the South-Asian experience, history, myth, magical realism and diversity.
She writes for adults and children. Her books have been translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Russian and Japanese. Two novels, “The Mistress of Spices” and “Sister of My Heart,” have been made into movies. Her collection of short stories, “Arranged Marriage,” won an American Book Award.
CSUN’s Freshman Common Reading Program is part of Academic First Year Experiences, which strives to help freshman and transfer students make a successful transition to Cal State Northridge. Programs like the Common Reading Program and the Freshman Convocation provide opportunities to link curricular with noncurricular learning so that first-year students smoothly transition to university life. For more information about the Academic First Year Experiences program, visit http://www.csun.edu/afye/.