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Have You Herd? October 2009 Convocation

Khaled Hosseini to Speak at
WTAMU Convocation

New York Times best-selling author Khaled Hosseini will be the keynote speaker at West Texas A&M University’s Convocation for freshmen at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15 at the First United Bank Center. Plus, winners of the Readership WT essay-writing contest will be announced.

The event is free and open to the public. Seating begins at 4:15 p.m.

Hosseini is the author of A Thousand Splendid Suns, the University’s 2009-2010 Readership WT selection. Readership WT is the common-reader program launched in 2005 for WTAMU freshmen as part of the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan. Another element of the Readership WT program is to bring the author of the selected reader to the University Convocation as the keynote speaker. Hosseini will speak at Convocation, and he also will participate in other University events, including a classroom visit to discuss his book with WTAMU students.

A Thousand Splendid Suns follows the success of Hosseini’s first book, The Kite Runner, and tells the story of love and friendship between Mariam and Laila, two very different women thrown together under harsh circumstances. Their struggles provide the reader with an intimate look at life before and during the reign of the Taliban in Afghanistan as the two women attempt to cope with “their lot in life” in a male-dominated culture. The book was published in 2007 and quickly became one of the year’s best-selling novels. It has since been published in more than 40 countries.  

“Having Khaled Hosseini here to speak to our freshmen is very exciting,” Dr. Amy Andersen, associate professor of education and head of the Convocation committee, said. “He has seen firsthand the suffering and hardships that women in Afghanistan live with every day—the poverty, the lack of education, the treatment—and how we can help to fight it.”

And that is where the Readership WT essay-writing contest comes in. Each year, members of the WTAMU freshman class are encouraged to write an essay on the Readership WT book selection. Winners then take an international service trip related to the book during the University’s spring break. This year, approximately 15 winners will get the chance to travel to Turkey to help teach English and work on women’s empowerment issues. Previous trips have taken students to Poland for the 2007 book Night and to Africa for the 2008 book What is the What.

Hosseini will appear at two ticketed events following the 5 p.m. Convocation. A VIP reception will begin at 6:15 p.m. in the Mary Moody Northen Hall Formal Art Gallery. Tickets are $100 each and come with an opportunity to meet and greet Hosseini and receive a signed copy of one of his books. The ticket price also includes VIP parking and reserved seating at a 7 p.m. discussion and question-and-answer session with the author. The session will be in Mary Moody Northen Recital Hall. General admission tickets for the discussion and question-and-answer session are priced at $27 each.

VIP tickets can be purchased by calling J.J. Walker, WTAMU event coordinator, at 806-651-2990. Tickets for the discussion and question-and-answer session can be purchased through Panhandle Tickets at 806-378-3096 or at panhandletickets.com. Proceeds from both events will help send the essay winners to Turkey next spring.

Hosseini was born in Kabul in 1965, and in 1980, his family was granted political asylum in the United States. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Santa Clara University in 1988 and a medical degree at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine in 1993. He completed his residency at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.

The practicing internist always had a desire to write so he began working on The Kite Runner in 2001. Just before the book’s release in 2003, Hosseini made his first trip back to Afghanistan in a deeply personal fact-finding mission. That trip provided much of the material for his second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns.

In 2006 Hosseini was named a goodwill envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency. He has traveled to Chad to visit refugees from the Darfur conflict and to Afghanistan to meet with returning refugees in the northern part of the county. He also has created the Khaled Hosseini Foundation to help the women and children of Afghanistan.

For more information about WTAMU’s Convocation, contact Andersen at 806-651-2609.

Previous Readership WT selections:
2005: A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind
2006: What Should I Do with My Life by Po Bronson
2007: Night by Elie Wiesel                              
2008: What is the What by Dave Eggers

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