Aug. 13, 2010
Elizabeth Klipp, 404-413-1356
ATLANTA – As they embark on their college careers, Georgia State University’s freshman class will have the opportunity to hear words of wisdom from the author of the book they have been reading this summer.
Warren St. John, author of “Outcasts United” – the university’s book selection for the inaugural First-Year Reading Program – will give the keynote address at Freshmen Convocation.
Open to the Georgia State community and general public, Freshmen Convocation will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 22 in the GSU Sports Arena, 125 Decatur St.
At convocation, the author is expected to discuss how first-year college students can apply the book’s lessons and embrace opportunities brought about by change and diversity. St. John will also convey the importance of meeting the challenges of the 21st Century global environment.
“Being able to meet the author of a book that you and your friends have read, and to hear that author speak are very special experiences,” said Risa Palm, senior vice president for academic affairs and Provost of Georgia State. “It gives a common source of new ideas and topics to discuss. It’s an important part of the intellectual community a university is supposed to be.”
As the graduation commencement serves as a ritual marking the completion of study, Freshmen Convocation signals the beginning of a college career. Palm will preside over the event and lead students in the reciting of the freshmen pledge and receiving the freshmen medallion ceremony.
Convocation will be followed by a reception with the author for faculty and invited guests in the University Library. The Student Recreation Center will host a general reception for student attendees and their family.
On Aug. 23, two 75-minute sessions with St. John will be held in the Student Center's Speakers Auditorium. The seminars are free and open to the public.
From 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., the author will discuss, “Making a Difference: Importance and Rewards of Leadership.” In the second seminar from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., St. John will highlight, “Struggles of Diversity: Conflict at Home and Abroad.”
Georgia State adopted the First-Year Reading Program this year to spark intellectual interest and engagement among students, faculty and staff.
The book will be incorporated into freshman classes, such as 1101 English Composition and GSU 1010 New Student Orientation.
“Outcasts United” tells the story of how Clarkston, Ga., transformed from a predominately white town into one of the most diverse communities in the country, after it was designated a resettlement center for refugees around the world in the early 1990s.
Told through the lens of a soccer team of refugee boys called the “Fugees,” the story provides readers with lessons about how to create community in places where everyone is different. The soccer team and their charismatic female coach struggle for success on the soccer field, while facing the social, economic and cultural challenges of community in a 21st Century world.
GSU academic officials hope the book’s lessons will be integrated into students’ own lives.
“It provides not only a common experience for the students, but it’s a real academic opportunity for them to engage as a group,” said Allison Calhoun-Brown, GSU’s director of student retention. “A common experience can be a very powerful impact on student learning.”
Throughout the fall, several faculty panel discussions will be held based on the issues raised in “Outcasts United,” such as ethics, politics and history, as well as family structure and community. The university is also planning a staff and student refugee panel, community service activities with refugee groups, an essay contest and a field trip to Clarkston, Ga. to see a “Fugees” soccer game.
More details will be announced this fall. To learn more about the First-Year Reading Program, please visit: http://www.gsu.edu/success/41544.html.