By Jessika Harkay | Reporter
The Multicultural Affairs Book Club aims to cultivate an empathetic environment toward different cultures through reading and conversation once a month.
The club held its February meeting Thursday night and was founded in the spring of 2018 by former book club intern and now Baylor alumna, Megan Glover. The Multicultural Affairs Book Club is now led by higher education graduate student Madelynn Lee who hopes it can challenge students perspectives, including her own.
“I think it’s just it’s been challenging so far having my eyes opened and I hope once we start talking about what we’re reading, other students will say, ‘Yes, this really resonated with me’, ‘I can relate to this’ or, you know, ‘I was really challenged by this perspective,’” Lee said. “I think that’s part of the beauty of just being able to have these books today, to talk about and see what we learned from one another and from the things that we’re reading.”
This semester, the club will be reading “American, Like Me” by America Ferrara, a book with various first-person accounts from famous immigrants and their experiences growing up with different cultures, their perspectives of living in America and grappling with their ethnic identity.
Houston senior CC Edwards is a student who got involved with the organization in the fall of 2019. Edwards, who grew up with immigrant parents, said the books throughout the last two semesters have resonated with and helped her to find her own identity and understand those around her better.
“With my dad being from El Salvador, it brought some insight of how people from Central America come to the US sometimes, and how difficult the journey of being an immigrant is,” Edwards said. “This semester we’re reading ‘American Like Me’ and it’s very insightful as it shows how many different cultures and ethnic groups come and build the ‘American Dream’. By being half Brazilian and half El Salvadorian, it makes me feel that I am a ‘true American’ regardless of my background.”
The club’s choice in reading is usually picked through voting on a broad selection of texts that can challenge students’ thinking. Lee said it’s important for the book club to act as an opportunity for learning and cultural humility that we often don’t see firsthand in the classroom.
Throughout the last two years, students have read “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” by Erika L. Sanchez, “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness” by Austin Channing Brown, “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay and “Enrique’s Journey” by Sonia Nazario.
“That’s part of the reason why our department is here — to kind of help that side of the educational process and really help prepare people for the real world after college, because we don’t live in a very homogenous society,” Lee said. “There’s a lot of diversity. And so I think it’s important to have a space where we can talk about these things, and where students can encounter them before they graduate so that they can be better citizens and just more compassionate people.”