The Texas A&M International University Common Reading Program, known as Reading the Globe and Reading the Nation, is a University-wide initiative spearheaded by University College uniting students in an international and global reading experience reflective of TAMIU’s mission.
Since 2008, the program, entitled Reading the Globe, has had all First Year students read a book focused on an international topic. This book is read and discussed as part of the UNIV 1101 freshman seminar curriculum, Learning in a Global Environment I. The Common Read Program provides the opportunity for discourse about issues that are relevant to students and raises social awareness on a local and global scale.
Faculty and staff also participate in the common read, fostering and strengthening the growth of an intellectual community in and around the University supporting students’ academic development. The Common Reading Program develops an “Understanding of Society and Culture,” one of TAMIU’s Undergraduate Learning Principles.
Reading the Globe
Program highlights for Reading the Globe include:
- Reading the Globe Speaker Event: Each Fall semester, the author of the Common Read comes to TAMIU and speaks to the freshman class. This occurs on a Friday in October, once students have finished reading and discussing the book in UNIV 1101.
- Author/TAMIU Faculty Panel Discussion: Honor students and students in the freshman and sophomore leadership program attend and discuss international issues related to the book.
- Laredo’s One City, One Book Speaker Series: TAMIU partners with the City of Laredo’s Public Library through a Texas Humanities for the Arts grant. The author speaks at the One City, One Book Speaker Event, which is open to the Laredo community the following Saturday. It is just one example of TAMIU’s international leadership role and commitment to the community it serves.
- Reading the Globe Study Abroad Competition: As part of the UNIV 1101 curriculum, students write an essay on a topic related to the common read. Students may choose to submit their essay to compete for a two-week Study Abroad experience (all expenses paid) to the country connected to the common read Fifteen students are chosen and travel abroad during Christmas or spring break under the direction of University College and the Office of Student Affairs. Two to three faculty, at least one from University College, accompany the students. This experience supports faculty in their international research interests while offering freshmen opportunities to learn from experts in the field in an informal setting. These students become TAMIU’s Reading the Globe Ambassadors.
- Cultural Awareness Day: Organized by University College, this one day conference event held each fall since 2011 features TAMIU faculty and community speakers knowledgeable about the country or culture related to the common read. UNIV students and some high school student guests attend.
- Freshman Convocation: Held in September at the Fine and Performing Arts Recital Hall, Reading the Globe Ambassadors, now sophomores, share their international travel experience to incoming freshmen. All TAMIU faculty also attend this major freshmen event highlighting the University’s international mission and encouraging TAMIU students to engage in an international activity.
- University-wide Common Read. The President’s Office purchases over 300 copies of the Common Read each Fall. These books are distributed to faculty and staff free of charge and electronic copies of the book are available through the Killam Library. This encourages faculty teaching traditional First Year courses to make connections in class to the Common Read, knowing that approximately 1000 freshmen have read the same book. Staff are eager recipients of these books as well, providing a strong statement about TAMIU’s commitment to internationalizing not only its students, but the TAMIU community at large.
To date, the Reading the Globe selections have included the following titles:
- All But My Life: A Memoir by Gerda Weissmann Klein
- A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
- The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine by Somaly Mam
- Santiago's Children: What I Learned about Life at an Orphanage in Chile by Steve Reifenberg
- Prisoner of Tehran: One Woman's Story of Survival Inside an Iranian Prison by Marina
- NematKaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa by Mark Mathabane
- The River Runs Salt, Runs Sweet: A Memoir of Visegrad, Bosnia by Jasmina Dervisevic-Cesic.
Reading the Nation
Reading the Nation Program highlights:
As part of our global mission, in the spring of 2013, University College introduced Reading the Nation, a companion domestic Common Read that takes place during the Spring semester in UNIV 1102, Learning in a Global Context II. Reading the Nation introduces a book written about the United States that focuses on globally germane subjects to continue the common dialogue and highlight social issues close to home. These selections also expose international and TAMIU students to the American experience of different cultural and social groups during various periods of American history. These domestic reads increase student understanding of global current or historical issues that transcend geographical boundaries.
To date, the Reading the Nation selections include:
- Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray.
- The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
- The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.
A committee of TAMIU faculty and staff reviews the titles selected for the Common Read, which must meet the following criteria:
- Readability and potential for engaging students
- International focus
- Literary quality
- Relevance to first-year students, current society, or local community
- Appeal to a wide range of students
- Possibilities for additional programming, especially inclusion in first-year courses or other areas of the curriculum
- Richness of content/themes
- Cost (must be available in paperback)
- Length (100 – 400 pages)
- Accurate and respectful portrayals of diverse cultures
- Potential to spark passionate discussion
- Not likely to have been read in high school.
- Opportunities for multimedia approaches and creative assignments
- Feasibility of travel to country on which reading is focused.
Reading the World
Reading the Globe invites First Year students to submit reflection essays about the current international title. A committee reads their essays and 15 students are selected to participate in a Study Abroad experience in a setting the same or similar to that featured in the Common Read.
To date, Reading the Globe has taken students to: Poland, Ghana, Cambodia, Chile, Turkey, and South Africa. In Spring 2015, students will travel to Eastern Europe (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary).
To learn more about country-specific Reading the Globe travels by students, including galleries, essays and impressions by students, go here.