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MSU/East Lansing One Book One Community: Faces of Migration: The Human Experiences

left to right: Kristen Shelley, Joelle Brown, Jennifer Orlando

Migration and refugee issues aren’t just fodder for presidential candidates, they’re also at the forefront of Michigan State University and East Lansing’s 2016 One Book, One Book Community Program. The theme, “Faces of Migration: The Human Experiences,” features “Enrique’s Journey” by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sonia Nazario and “City of Thorns” by Ben Rawlence.

OBOC is a nationwide program that encourages communities to come together over a common media experience – reading the same book, watching the same video, etc. Each community can determine its own themes and media selections and then choose events and activities surrounding those selections and themes.

To talk about the local 2016 book selections as well as what we can except for this year’s programming, Jennifer Orlando talks with Kristen Shelley, director of the East Lansing Library and Joelle Brown, program coordinator for the MSU-East Lansing One Book, One Book Community program.

Migration is not an easy topic to unpack. There are a lot of terms and variances and nuisances surrounding that theme.

“There are many different ways to explore the idea of migration and to learn about individual experiences of migration,” says Shelley.

“Creating a theme and selecting a book is time intensive,” continues Shelley. “The One Book, One Community committee is comprised of representatives from MSU and East Lansing. It takes the committee months to consider books, make selections, and construct a theme. We receive suggestions for books from community members and campus partners, plus we always try to find a conversation that will be relevant. Migration, in all forms, immigration, refugee resettlement, seemed like an incredibly relevant community conversation to have.

“The common thread between these two books is the emotional journey. We’re focusing on the faces of migration, the people who are going through these trials and journeys. We’re exploring the humanity of migrating.

One Book, One Community, at its heart, is a community conversation. It’s about community building.

“We want MSU students to realize they’re community members of East Lansing. We want East Lansing community members to feel connected to and empowered to engage with MSU students. It’s very important.”

OBOC is in its 15th year, and the committee strives to keep the book selections and programming fresh and exciting.

That happens naturally,” says Brown. “We pay attention to relevant topics, we seek feedback, and we look for books that will serve a wide variety of readers that have engaging authors who are willing to talk and travel. From there, we take the books to campus and community partners, and it becomes very fun.

“It’s a harmonious process every year, and we’re always just amazed at the brilliant and inspiring work happening in the community and on campus.

Details on OBOC events are here.

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