Winthrop takes global approach in freshman reading assignment

Incoming Winthrop University freshmen will read about the experiences of a Peace Corps volunteer in an Ivory Coast village in this summer's required common book.

"Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village" by Sarah Erdman addresses issues the author faced during her stay in Nambonkaha in the late 1990s. Erdman writes about topics such as monitoring malnutrition in babies and combating the spread of AIDS.

Jennifer Solomon, acting dean of University College, said the book was chosen for its international focus.

"Everything is really so connected now," she said. "It's a global economy, so jobs that students have here may be for companies that have offices abroad. To understand what's happening in our country, we have to understand how what we do relates to what happens in the rest of the world, and how the rest of the world impacts us."

All freshmen are required to read the common book the summer before they arrive at Winthrop. The book is discussed during class meetings the first week of school. Themes from the common book also are incorporated into assemblies, art exhibits or performances throughout the year.

The typical freshman class has close to 1,100 students.

Past books include "The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life," "The Tipping Point" and "A Hope in the Unseen."

Students on campus Wednesday said they like having a common book, even if they don't love the books they've read.

"I thought it was a good idea that we read a common book, but I thought the book should have been more well-known," said Paige Moretz, a freshman political science major whose class read "The Creative Habit."

Moretz said this summer's book sounds a lot better.

"People need to know about the world more," she said. "That would have interested me a lot."

Solomon said she hopes the book will inspire students to interact with international students and possibly to study abroad.

"Often when they do that, what they're able to do is look back at their own society and culture in a whole new way," she said.