Middle East studies in the News
Colleges' Common Reader Selections Aim to Combat Divisiveness [incl. Moustafa Bayoumi]
by Debra Erdley
Seizing a moment when the world is rife with division and presidential campaigns highlighting the bitter divide dominate the headlines, some universities are asking students to walk a mile in the other person's shoes this summer.
This year's common readers — books universities assigned to incoming freshmen to read over the summer — reflect that challenge at private and public universities across the region that have hewed to the tradition.
Carlow University President Suzanne Mellon said she selected this year's Carlow common reader — "How Does It Feel to be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America" by Moustafa Bayoumi — with such a challenge in mind.
For millennials who have grown up immersed in the world of social media and candidates' 140-character tweets, it promises to offer a deeper discussion on issues of religion and ethnicity that are dominating presidential politics this year.
Looking to expand the conversation, Mellon extended the common reader challenge to the entire community at the private university perched in the hills of Pittsburgh's Oakland section.
The book features seven in-depth portraits of young Arab Americans living in Brooklyn, N.Y. Their experiences range from being a college student to an Arab-American Marine who served the United States in Iraq.
"This is a launching point for a dialogue about people who have been singled out and branded persona non grata. But it also echoes the experience of men and women who persevere through triumphs and setbacks. It's a topic that will generate a lot of discussion," Mellon said.
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