University Names Readership WT Book, Partners with TAMIU
West Texas A&M University offers a unique international travel opportunity for college freshmen through its Readership WT program, and this year is no exception with its new book selection and a collaborative travel experience with Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) in Laredo.
Incoming freshmen at both WTAMU and TAMIU this year will receive copies of The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam. The book is the 2010 Readership WT selection as well as TAMIU’s book for its Reading the Globe program. It tells Mam’s story as a victim, survivor and rescuer in the sex slave business. The author will speak at both schools—first at WTAMU for the University’s annual convocation Oct. 5 and then at TAMIU—and essay winners at both Universities will travel as a group to Cambodia during spring break in March 2011. Mam is founder of the Somaly Mam Foundation, and officials at both universities hope the student travelers will have the opportunity to work in the Cambodian shelters funded through her foundation.
“We try to select books with global issues for the Readership WT program,” Kendra Campbell, director of learning communities, said. “Last year’s book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, looked at women’s issues, and The Road of Lost Innocence is the perfect follow-up.
“It’s an easy read but a difficult subject matter. But it teaches an important lesson—that you can overcome any obstacle and make a difference in your community, and what better lesson than that for our students.”
Readership WT is the common reader program initiated in 2005 as part of the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan, “Engaging the first-year student.” Since then, Readership WT has introduced the University community to A Hope in the Unknown by Ron Suskind (2005), What Should I Do with My Life? by Po Bronson (2006), Night by Elie Wiesel (2007), What is the What by Dave Eggars (2008) and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (2009). The 2007 reader, Night, also introduced an international travel component to the program with freshmen essay winners traveling to Poland (Night), Africa (What is the What) and Turkey (A Thousand Splendid Suns).
This is the first time the Readership WT program has partnered with a fellow institution in a book selection and trip. TAMIU’s Reading the Globe program is patterned after WTAMU’s common reader program, and TAMIU students traveled to Poland for the book All But My Life and to Ghana, West Africa for the book A Long Way Gone. This year committee members from WTAMU discussed 2010-2011 book options with their counterparts at TAMIU via teleconference sessions. They voted as a group on The Road of Lost Innocence, and teleconference sessions will continue between the two schools as the essay winners prepare for the trip as a group to learn about the country and its culture. Approximately 15 essay winners from each school will travel to Cambodia accompanied by trip sponsors and possibly a documentary team.
“This will be a wonderful opportunity for our students,” Campbell said. “The book delivers an important message, and the partnership with Texas A&M International will create lasting friendships and special memories for everyone.”