ODU’s Big Read Closing Ceremony

I had a great time Saturday, 5/29, at the closing ceremony. Over the last twelve months, Dr. Lea Lee, Dr. Gail Taylor, Dr. Zhongtang Ren, Clyde Hunter, and I have been working towards the closing ceremony. Right away, we chose to kick the Big Read Program off on May 1st because it is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. We chose to read, discuss, and celebrate Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club with our community because we wanted a book we believed was well written and multicultural.

So the Closing Ceremony served two purposes: 1) it celebrated the end of a successful month filled with reading, discussions, art, movies, good food, and developing friendships and 2) it recognized and celebrated our Haiku Contest Winners!

I enjoyed everything on the program, but I will only highlight the things I keep thinking about.

The Entertainment

We had guitar music and singing offered by a student at Western Branch High School and by a gentleman named Frank Mangum.

We had Bollywood Dancing by the Navy Exchange Service Command Women of Nexcom Finance Center. The ladies danced to Shakira’s version of “Hips Don’t Lie”.

The Keynote Address

Dr. Luisa Igloria was the keynoter and she inspired us to go beyond The Joy Luck Club. After her talk, I felt like she said, Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston introduced Asian American literature to a wider audience, but that was, at least in Kingston’s case, over 30 years ago; let’s read them and read others. Let’s create new spaces of dialog around Asian and Asian American literature. She said, we read literature to remember the idea that there is multiplicity in difference.

She said don’t just read; spread the word when you like a good book. Tell the librarian. Tell the local bookstore owner. Tell your friends. She was talking my language because that’s one of the purposes of my blog. I want to tell somebody about a good book.

The Winners

First Place

Daejah is a ninth grade student. Her poem was chosen out of over 40 entries.

Second Place

Lisa is an educator. I learned something new when she explained how she was moved to write her poem.

Honorable Mention

I was impressed when Tommy recited his poem. (I would have had to read mine because with stagefright, I can’t remember things.) Tommy’s teachers, Ms. Cathey and Ms. Lewis, are very supportive of him.

I am thrilled about all of our winners.