One Book, One Chicago Reached Uniting America!

April 18, 2012
Izabela Grobelna Uniting America AmeriCorps Fellow

This year’s One Book, One Chicago had reached Uniting America! I organized three book discussion, and two had already taken place, in partnership with Chicago Public Media. The book discussed was Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li, a Chinese American author who herself immigrated to America for graduate school. The topic of the discussions was kindness within one self, family, and community. 

Each book discussion was facilitated by Chicago Cultural Alliance member organizations, these are ethnic museums and cultural centers often representing immigrant communities in Chicago. 

One facilitator shared her own story of kindness, which happened in India while she was applying for a student visa. Yet, another facilitator helped participants imagine life in China, since she herself is Chinese-American. 

After sharing personal stories of kindness, these stories overlapped with many other life experiences of the participants, such as immigration. Other participants posed questions: What does it mean to apply for a visa? How to make another country one’s new home? The genuine human curiosity such as that of the participants from the book discussions helps me better understand the importance of providing space in our society for Uniting America, a space where people can come together for an exchange of perspectives, to tell stories, and share laughter., but also to come away with a better understanding of the other person. A poem read at the one of the book discussions demonstrated the world of possibilities that beholds us when we come together and listen to each other. This poem was by Adrienne Rich, a contemporary American poet, and here is the last verse from “Prospective Immigrants Please Note”:

The door itself makes no promises.  It is only a door.