“These stories are a record of of our shared humanity. Hearing them, it becomes clear that no matter who we are or where we come from, there is much more in common that we share than that divides us. These stories are a reminder that if we spent … a little more time listening to each other, we would be a better, more thoughtful, and more compassionate nation.”
Dave Isay, Listening Is an Act of Love,
“If I were to place on a scale all the bad things that had happened to me and my family on one side and all the kindness and generosity on the other, the goodness in people would far outweigh the bad. I saw Burundi for what it was – not a paradise and not a hell, simply a land made imperfect by the people who inhabited it.”
Gilbert Tuhabonye, This Voice in My Heart,
Welcome to the website of Eugenio María de Hostos Community College’s Book-of-the-Semester Project. This year, as we continue to explore the theme of SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION in more depth, we will read Listening Is an Act of Love. A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project (Dave Isay, editor) in the fall semester and This Voice in My Heart. A Runner’s Memoir of Genocide, Faith, and Forgiveness (Gilbert Tuhabonye) in the spring semester.
We are very fortunate that the StoryCorps Project has established residency on our campus this year. Under the auspices of a grant secured for Hostos by Professor Carlos Sanabria (Humanities Department), the Hostos community is now telling its story. Hostos students, faculty and staff members are entering the StoryCorps booth in the Humanities Department and interviewing one another about their lives. At the same time they are sharing their personal stories in the language of their choice, they are also being given the opportunity to read the narratives of other StoryCorps participants that appear in Listening Is an Act of Love. Through the curriculum that has been planned, this oral history project therefore promises to be a well-integrated listening, speaking, reading and writing activity on Hostos’s unique multilingual and multicultural landscape.
The hope of Dave Isay, the founder of the StoryCorps Project, is that through StoryCorps we will become a “more compassionate nation” as we learn to appreciate “our shared humanity.” Quite apparent in his writing is his vision that “someday StoryCorps may even succeed in creating a change in our culture, shaking us out of a reality TV-induced slumber and redirecting our energy toward careful listening, honoring our elders, and embracing our neighbors” (269). In light of such thinking, Gilbert Tuhabonye’s narrative, This Voice in My Heart, surely requires our embrace. As we read the account of his miraculous survival from a genocidal attack of the Hutus on the Tutsis at his boarding school in Burundi, his country of birth, and we trace the trajectory of his journey, from Burundi to the United States, his adopted country, we will virtually be transformed, and the word “neighbor” will then have a different meaning for us.
For guidance in reading Listening Is an Act of Love, go to “Study Guide.”
To participate in an online conversation forum inspired by Listening Is an Act of Love, go to “Discussion Board.”
For guidance in reading This Voice in My Heart, go to “Study Guide.”
To see other teachers’ teaching strategies in response to This Voice in My Heart, go to “Resources.”