The secret is out!  From more than 50 entries, Outcasts United by Warren St. John was the book chosen for the 2012 First Year Reading Experience (FYRE).  It’s a book the entire UTC campus can read and experience the true story of a soccer team of refugee teenage boys coached by a Jordanian-born woman in Clarkston, a small town outside Atlanta, Georgia.

“I love this book!   I’m really enthusiastic about it and I hope you will be, too,” said Dr. Sara Jorgensen, Assistant Professor, African and World History, serves as chair of the FYRE committee.   “This is not a feel-good book, but it is an inspiring book. It will make people think about a lot of important issues.”

Clarkston, Georgia, became an area for agencies to resettle refugees in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  The Fugees soccer team brought together young men from many of the world’s hotspots.  Their home countries included Congo, Sudan, Liberia, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Members of the UTC Women’s Soccer Team helped Dr. Phil Oldham unveil the book title to the UTC community.

“The First Year Reading Experience embraces two very important concepts:  the power of words, creating thoughts and ideas and the power of community, where the action takes place,” Oldham explained.

Earlier in the current academic year, the campus read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind:  Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope for the first-ever FYRE at UTC. Author William Kamkwamba came to campus and made several inspiring presentations.

For the 2012-13 academic year, the FYRE committee considered whether the book would appeal to a wide range of interests, experiences, and disciplinary perspectives.  Jorgensen said the committee wanted a book that suggested different ways the UTC community could play with it and learn from it, and she assures this book will have people brainstorming.

Jorgensen encouraged faculty to use Outcasts United in the classroom.  She also encouraged staff and students to think of interesting ways the book can be used.

“If new students see, hear and experience the book and the issues it raises being addressed from many different perspectives, that’s a very strong indicator of how a university at its best can work—as an interdisciplinary place where people with many kinds of expertise can engage with one another, challenge one another, and collaborate on tackling big questions,” Jorgensen said.

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