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Author To Share Interests With Students During Forum

Oct. 11, 2010
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

Da ChenDa Chen, author of SHSU’s Bearkats Read to Succeed common reader selection and the New York Times best-selling “China’s Son,” will engage students in some of his interests when he comes to campus on Oct. 18-19 for the First Year Experience’s annual author’s forum.

In addition to participating in many activities inspired by his novel, Chen will give a series of lectures that covers the course of his life beginning on Monday at 9 a.m. with “The Essence of Chinese Culture—Achieving a Noble Life,” in the Lowman Student Center Theater. The first lecture will emphasize Chinese history seen through Chen's personal experiences growing up in China’s deep south during the Cultural Revolution.

From 10-11 a.m., Chen will discuss what it was like to be a victim of communist political persecution after his father was thrown into a reform camp and Chen, at the age of 9, was threatened with imprisonment during “Cultural Heritage and Identity” in the LSC Theater.

At 11 a.m., he will give a keynote address on “From Suppression to Wall Street To Random House,” also in the LSC Theater, which will follow Chen’s journey to America at the age of 23, with $30 in his pocket, a bamboo flute “and a heart filled with hope,” according to Kay Angrove, director of the First Year Experience Office.

“He attended Columbia University School of Law on a full scholarship and upon graduating worked for the Wall Street investment banking firm of Rothschilds, Inc.,” she said. “After writing his first memoir, he went on to become a New York Times bestseller.”

Following the lecture, Chen will sign copies of his book in Chinese calligraphy.

That evening, Chen will share one of his childhood pastimes, ping-pong, with students. The “Da Chen Invitational Ping-Pong Tournament and Book Signing” will be held from 7-9 p.m. in the Kat Klub, on the first floor of the LSC.

Sixteen participants will be selected to participate in the tournament, chosen from a random lottery, the winner of which will play Chen. Prizes will be awarded to winners.

“In the book he mentions that he was a very good ping-pong player,” Angrove said. “It was important to China and his life when he was young and going to school.

“He had problems with social and political status in his life because of who he was and who his family was (landlords stripped of their wealth during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s), and ping-pong was an avenue where he could be successful and gain stature in his village and school community.”

China's Son bookOn Tuesday, Chen will give budding writers tips on being successful with a creative writing workshop. “Write Like a Blind Man—Significantly Elevate Your Writing to a New Level” will be held from 8-9:30 a.m. in Lowman Student Center Room 320.

“The writing workshops are his passion,” Angrove said. “This summer he taught creative writing classes at New York University. He has a lot of books and best sellers, and he likes helping people with their writing.”

That evening, SHSU’s Political Engagement Project will help round out the author’s forum events when it presents the third roundtable in its “Hot Topics” discussion series with an interactive seminar on “U.S.-China Relations.”

The panel discussion, which will be from 7-9 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Theater, will include Tracy Steele, SHSU associate professor of history; Jihon “Solomon” Zhao, SHSU professor of criminal justice; and Hans Stockton, director of the Center for International Studies at the University of St. Thomas.

Bill Carroll, SHSU associate professor of political science, will moderate the discussion and audience participation as the panelists talk about the political, economic and cultural relationship between China and the United States.

“The author's forum is the pinnacle of the campus common reader program,” Angrove said. “When the author of ‘China's Son’ visits, it helps students identify with and personalize their experience with the reading.

“The forum is designed to introduce freshmen to the power and joys of reading, not simply as a means of imparting knowledge, but also as a way to strengthen emotional connectedness, and to challenge their frame of reference,” she said.

All events are free and open to the public.

Students who would like autographs should bring their copies of their books to signing events because all 2,500 copies purchased for the Bearkats Read to Succeed program have been given out. The Barnes and Noble University Bookstore will sell copies of the novel during the keynote lecture on Monday.

During the course of the two days, Chen will also participate a creative writing workshop with Huntsville High School’s T-STEM Academy, which has also adopted the book; attend a book club meeting on Bearkat Island, SHSU’s virtual online campus, with Melissa Burgess’s education students who will be talking about the book; and play the bamboo flute in a recital and masterclass for students in the Performing Arts Center Recital Hall.

“Da Chen is excited to interact with students interested in reading, writing, Chinese history, Chinese politics, ping-pong, and music,” Angrove said. “For the forum, we really tried to pull as many themes out of his book and out of his life as we could to impact as many students as possible in diverse ways.”

For more information on any of the author’s forum events, contact Angrove at 936.294.3422 or visit the BRTS author’s forum website at http://www.shsu.edu/~fye_www/events.html.

For more information on the Hot Topics panel discussion, contact Stacy Ulbig, assistant professor of political science, at 936.294.1468 or org_pep@shsu.edu.


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