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Catawba College's Common Reading Provides Foundation for First-Year Students

August 07, 2006

Category: Academics, Students


When Catawba College's first-year students arrive on campus next week, they'll have read Khaled Hosseini's "Kite Runner" and be prepared to discuss this text in their first-year seminar classes. Hosseini's best-selling first novel about coming of age in Afghanistan is Catawba's common reading selection this year for all new students.  

"Kite Runner" will provide both a starting point and a context for a year-long conversation between students and their faculty about globalization and consilience, according to Dr. Barbara Hetrick, vice president and dean of the college. "After students complete the common reading, they arrive on campus ready to participate and contribute to the intellectual life of the College," Hetrick explained. "The text also will provide a common thread for intellectual discussion throughout their first-year experience."  

Plans for a Book Revue on the book, from perspectives of a panel of Afghan nationals, and a community forum on Islamic culture and religion are being finalized for the fall.  

During spring semester, first-year students continue their intellectual engagement with "Kite Runner."   World-renowned photographer Luke Powell, a native North Carolinian and UNC Chapel Hill alumnus who has traveled and worked extensively in Afghanistan, will spend a week-long residency on campus in March 2007. He will exhibit his photographs, be available to provide commentary in various classes, and offer several lectures focused on his own Afghan experiences.  

"This will be the first full academic year in which we offer an integrated experience for our first-year students," Hetrick noted. "Each activity we're planning is designed to build a strong academic foundation for our new students. We want them engaged and we want them eager to learn and then eager to move on and learn even more."

"Kite Runner," written by Afghan immigrant Hosseini, was published in 2003. It is the tale of a friendship between two Afghan boys and how one's betrayal of the other affects their adult lives in Kabul and California. Incorporating universal themes, the novel's storyline stretches across several decades of Afghan history, from the monarchy of Mohammad Zahir Shah through the bloodless coup of 1973, the Communist takeover in 1978, the Soviet invasion in 1979 and the reign of the Taliban ending after the American invasion in 2001.