All that new college freshmen want to do after graduating from high school is enjoy a work-free, relaxing summer before the new school year begins. The last thing we want to have due is a summer reading assignment that forces us to take time out of our busy schedules for school work.

Summer reading requirements, however, are good for us. The books we read help us think critically, search for key symbols and enrich our vocabularies. Specifically, Georgetown’s 15-year-old Marino Family International Writers’ Academic Workshop encourages us to create and articulate well-informed opinions about literature and culture.

Every year, the workshop asks freshmen to read a selected text and come up with three discussion questions from it. The university invites the author to speak about his or her work and the art of writing, after which students break into smaller discussion groups to talk about the it with faculty, dean and alumni mentors. Thus, this program allows its participants to share their literary analyses and engage in the scholarly debate that Georgetown students know and love.

This year’s guest, Dinaw Mengestu (COL ’00), author of the required novel “How to Read the Air,” also supported the goals of the Marino Workshop. During the lecture, he spoke of how reading forces us to open ourselves up to new ideas. Whether or not we enjoyed the book, we hopefully gained some new knowledge from reading it. Regardless of if we agreed with its moral, we individually evaluated the story’s purpose. In our group discussions, we may have learned something new the information our peers shared.

Furthermore, we went to the workshop to find out more about our Georgetown community and the community beyond us. As Mengestu said, “We are called together to see each other clearly.” Therefore, listening to the beliefs of those in our discussion groups helped us understand the different cultures and personalities that are present at Georgetown. With so many nationalities represented at this university, we discovered how we may or may not be similar to people from other parts of the world. By asking questions about the author’s message and our colleagues’ backgrounds, we addressed important topics — self-identity, history and tradition — which took our conversation outside the writing.

Indeed, we attend college so that we can find ourselves and become educated about how the world works. By forcing us to think of questions and concepts relating to an international text, the workshop challenges us to figure out what types of writing we like and what viewpoints we hold on major world issues like immigration. When we consider the opinions of others in addition to our own, we are intellectually stimulated. Curious as to why some think differently than others, we develop into better global citizens by continuing conversation instead of stopping it.

Even if we have opposing viewpoints, we are united, in a sense, by the fact that we all had to read and study the same book. The workshop gives us another chance to share our beliefs with one another and to explore the diversity of our community. Reading the same book hopefully broadens our horizons and helps develop a feeling of respect for different interpretations.

In any case, this summer reading obligation encourages us to continue reading and learning lessons from literature. Thus, the workshop’s requirement benefits us because it cultivates the analytical, communication and decision-making skills that we will need to succeed at Georgetown. It introduces us to the type of scholarly dialogue in which we will consistently include ourselves for the next four years.

Emily Manbeck is a freshman in the College.

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