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Award-Winning author visits Jordan-Matthews

Posted Saturday, April 1, 2006

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Siler City, NC - On Tuesday, March 21, students at Jordan-Matthews High School had the privilege of spending time with a visiting author. Carlos Eire, a National Book Award winning author, talked with the students about his book, Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy. The students had read the book as part of their coursework prior to Eire's visit. He talked with the class about his inspirations and how memory affected his writing. During the discussion Eire engaged the students in discussions about vivid memories they held from childhood. The group also talked about particularly interesting portions of the book that students wanted more detail about.

Eire is a professor of history and religious studies at Yale University. The book focuses on his memories of life in Cuba as a young boy. He was one of 14,000 children airlifted out of Cuba to the United States in 1962. Eire and the other children had to leave without their parents during the early part of Fidel Castro's leadership of Cuba, which began in 1959.

“Carlos, both through the pages of his book and in person, helped show the students the power of personal narrative and the complexity of identity. He encouraged them to develop their own voices by reading and mimicking other authors' styles. He helped them understand that their identities are much more complex than a label of origin or race will reveal. And he challenged them to use their unique voices to tell their stories so we all might benefit from their diverse experiences,” said Cameron Barnett, an English teacher at Jordan-Matthews.

The author visit was in connection with a tutoring program at Jordan-Matthews that involves students from UNC Chapel Hill. Barnett and fellow teachers Mark Dillon, Angela McChesney, and Caroline Sain were instrumental in organizing the UNC collaboration that included the author visit. The teachers work with a group of students in the UNC Scholars program each Wednesday afternoon during a normal tutoring session time. They are developing relationships between the UNC students and Jordan-Matthews students through which they are working on various subject areas, writing in general, and college preparations like SAT prep, scholarships, and college selection. Many of the students who participated in Eire's visit are in the Scholars Latino Initiative, a program in which Jordan-Matthews students are paired with students from UNC for a mentoring program. They attend functions, study, and make college visits together to better prepare for college.

Eire spoke at UNC Chapel Hill the same day he visited Jordan-Matthews. Since the publication of his book, Eire has frequently conducted author visits at schools.

 
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