Read, discuss, reflect

Read, discuss, reflect

Akasha Khalsa

The Diversity Common Reader selected for this year, “Southside Buddhist Essays,” is still available for students to acquire for free at the Multicultural Education and Resource Center. Students can read the book in preparation for a collection of events which will take place for a week from March 23 to 27.

This book was chosen for the topics it covers, as well as for the differences between of rural and urban life which it portrays. The author, Ira Sukrungruang, grew up in the south side of Chicago with two parents who originated in Thailand, and moved to a very rural area to pursue a graduate degree.

“[The book] has different worlds, competing worlds: the city and rural America. It seemed to have a lot of different concepts that might be interesting to a lot of different people on campus,” Director of the McNair Scholars Program Heather Pickett said. “We thought students on campus might be interested in Buddhism and the intersectionality of immigration and some of the concepts surrounding that.”

In light of the many issues addressed in the book, a variety of events will be held to stimulate thoughtful responses. 

Professor Emeritus Paul Lehmberg will give a talk on Buddhism and hold a guided Zen meditation session. There will also be a panel presentation covering the intersecting issues of diabetes, obesity and mental health concerns, which are all things addressed in the book. Marcus Robyns of the NMU archives will present a talk about immigration to the UP, and international students will hold a panel on March 27.

The main, culminating event of the program will occur on Thursday March 26 in the Mead Auditorium, when the author himself will present.

Before all of these scholarly events, a reading party will be held in the Lodge from 12 to 2 p.m. on Feb. 21. Hot tea and cookies will be provided, as well as free copies of the book, which any student can pick up. Each Friday following Feb. 21 until March 23, silent reading parties will be held in the Lydia M. Olson Library atrium.

“It’s important because it’s an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, whoever wants to grab the book, to read the same book and then kind of engage in a conversation and hopefully make a journey together, becoming hopefully more aware of diversity issues,” Picket said.