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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 17, 2008

One Community, One Book discussion forums scheduled

University of Iowa students, faculty and staff will join area community members in sharing their reflections on the selected book of the UI Center for Human Rights' (UICHR) eighth annual reading project, One Community, One Book, at any of the 14 discussion forums scheduled from mid-September through October.

This year's book is "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier," by Ishmael Beah, who will visit the UI campus for a public lecture and discussion session at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, at the First United Methodist Church in Iowa City.

The book, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2007, tells the story of Beah, who, at the age of 12, fled attacking rebels in his home country of Sierra Leone during its civil war. By 13, Beah had become a member of the government army and had been forced to participate in random mass slaughter. Beah was brought to a rehabilitation center sponsored by UNICEF at 16, where he learned how to forgive himself and regain his humanity.

Initiated in 2001 by Dorothy Paul and Burns Weston at the UICHR, One Community, One Book began as a countywide reading project to bring together every adult and adolescent in Johnson County to discuss the same human rights-related text. During the past three years, it has expanded to include neighboring communities and counties. This year, the program provided books to approximately 4,300 first-year UI undergraduate students and will provide on-campus programming to support learning about the issues raised in the book.

"Expanding this program to include incoming freshmen will increase awareness of the program, human rights and global awareness in ways that we probably have not been able to do in the past," Joan Nashelsky, co-organizer and program assistant at UICHR, said. "We are hopeful that this expanded awareness will spill over into the community as well and not just stay confined to campus."

Beah, currently 28, is a member of the Human Rights Watch Children's Rights Division Advisory Committee. He has spoken before the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities (CETO) at the Marine Corps War fighting Laboratory, and many other NGO panels on children affected by war.

A schedule of the upcoming community forums, which are all free and open to the public, follows:

--Sept. 18, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.: University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Patients' Library, John W. Colloton Pavillion Solarium on the eighth floor.

--Sept. 30, 6:30 p.m.: North Liberty Community Library.

--Oct. 7, 7 p.m.: Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Coral Ridge Mall.

--Oct. 8, 7 p.m.: West Liberty Public Library.

--Oct. 11, 10 a.m.: Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A.

--Oct. 14, 8 p.m.: Hillcrest Residence Hall, Riverview Lounge.

--Oct. 15, 3:30 p.m.: Regina High School Library.

--Oct. 16, 6:30 p.m.: Solon Public Library.

--Oct. 17, 11 a.m.: Iowa City Senior Center, Room 208.

--Oct. 21, 3:30 p.m.: West High School/City High School/UI Retirees Association at West High School.

--Oct. 21, 8 p.m.: Currier Residence Hall, Van Oel Multipurpose Room.

--Oct. 22, 3:30 p.m.: Oaknoll Retirement Residence, E. 6th floor Benton Street Lounge.

--Oct. 22, 8 p.m.: UI Main Library, 2nd Floor Study Lounge.

--Oct. 23, 12 p.m.: Coralville Public Library.

In addition to UICHR, project sponsors include the UI International Writing Program, University Book Stores, Prairie Lights Books, the UI Libraries, Iowa City Public Library, Coralville Public Library, North Liberty Community Library, Hancher Auditorium, Hills Bank & Trust Company, West Bank, Midwest One Bank, Iowa Book LLC, Iowa City Human Rights Commission, Solon Public Library, UI Charter Committee on Human Rights, UI Department of English, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, UI International Programs, City High School, West High School and Regina High School are also participating.

This program is supported by Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The views and opinions expressed by this program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities Iowa or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information about discussion forums, films and other opportunities for UI students, staff, faculty, alumni and broader community member engagement, visit

UICHR is affiliated with UI International Programs, which enables UI students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all university constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the UI Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Downing Thomas, UI International Programs, 319-335-1438,; Thomas Rocklin, Office of the Provost, 319-335-0148,; Kelli Andresen, UI International Programs, 319-335-2026,