Students, Staff, Faculty Experience World-Renowned Authors Thanks to Campus Partnership

This autumn, students from the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor and Flint campuses, and their surrounding communities, were fortunate to have two world-famous authors on hand to speak about their works and lives.

On Thursday, September 25th, and Friday, September 26th, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus, spent time in Flint. Local students and teachers and members of the campus community were able to learn from her as she presented two lectures and a workshop over the two days. On Thursday, Adichie met and addressed teens from Flint-area schools as she discussed her love of reading, writing, and literature, talked about her recent works, and answered their questions. Later that afternoon, she did the same for attendees at the UM-Flint Theatre. The later audience held a large contingent of students and faculty from the Ann Arbor campus of the the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. They attended both at the invitation of and out of partnership with the UM-Flint Department of Africana Studies.

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Chimamanda speaking to local teens at the Flint Public Library.

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Elizabeth James of U of M, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Dr. Ernest Emenyonu – Dept. Chair of UM-Flint’s Africana Studies Department

Adichie’s Friday was spent with area teachers and professors as the topic of teaching African literature was discussed.

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Workshop participants were given a chance to have their books signed.

The second opportunity came on Wednesday, November 5th, when students from UM-Flint were invited to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to hear Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, speak on her life and the world around us. In her gentle voice, Walker told stark truths about the nature of war and the failures of our political systems around the world. She reminded the audience to not be complacent about the things that matter to them. She reminded them that people, deemed good or bad by the media or popular opinion, are just people, and that having compassion and understanding for others is never a bad idea.

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Hill Auditorium at the University of Michigan was filled nearly to capacity.

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Alice Walker spoke about the importance of friendships – with other people, with countries, and with the earth itself.

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Walker also read a number of poems to the audience including “Why Peace is Always a Good Idea.”

Tamasha Hart, a student at UM-Flint, said, “Alice Walker has an amazing spirit. Listening to her speak, made me feel very humbled and privileged. She made me realize that many times we have to step outside of ourselves and have an unbiased love and form of compassion in our hearts that  allows us to be kind to everyone. It was definitely an awesome and unforgettable experience for me. I was impressed.”

To learn more about UM-Flint’s Africana Studies Department, a driving force in bringing authors of this caliber to students and the community, visit their website.