Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Adventure of Reading Not Lost on Chautauqua County Home Residents

Has the importance and prevalence of reading declined in today’s society?  In a Big Read group presentation at the Chautauqua County Home on February 27th, Brian Bailey and I, Caitlin Skellett, worked to encourage a passion for reading amongst the residents.

Event Background
The Big Read is a program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts in which participating organizations work with community partners to encourage literacy in local communities.  This is done through book discussions and events in the participating areas.  The program started due to a recent study demonstrating a literacy crisis and showing that reading rates are declining rapidly.  10% of Americans do not read.  This is a loss of 20 million potential readers.  Taking on the challenge of re-instating reading in our community, our group presented a discussion at the Chautauqua County Home with hopes of encouraging resident’s enjoyment of the book.

Our Event
The event held that Chautauqua County Home was successful. The group talked about animal cruelty, necessary punishment, human relations with dogs and Jack London’s life. Most of the members of our audience grew up on farms where they were surrounded by animals including dogs. Several members would repeat the dogs they grew up with, and had throughout their lives, were members of their family. Being members of the family punishment was necessary. Similar to raising a child, if the child made a mistake the child would be punished. Punishment would consist of being grounded, having videos taken away or something similar. The same may hold true when it comes to raising dogs.

Our event at the home was successful and the residents seemed to enjoy themselves talking about the book (the parts that were read at the home). Our group had a board in the front of the room with a map of Buck’s journey. From there, the group followed the map moving along and reaching the wild with activities and discussion questions. With each activity and question the paper Buck (on the board) would move along the map until he reached the wild. When “the wild” was reached the event concluded. The residents seemed to have liked the small visual of Bucks journey. When the board was put up one of the residents said aloud, “Oh that is pretty” the group members looked at her and smiled. She smiled back, gave the group thumbs up and said, “Good job.”
The residents at the event seemed pleased and satisfied with the performance with the group. Furthermore, the residents seemed to appreciate what SUNY Fredonia and the Big Read program did (do) for them and other members of the surrounding areas.

 Audience Response
Presenting to an audience of approximately 20 individuals, all of whom bring something different to the discussion may seem like a challenge, and, although the task wasn’t simple, it was rewarding.  We had some residents who told us they liked reading more than they enjoyed watching television because they could use their imaginations more.  One resident even said that after reading the novel, she wished to travel to Alaska.  
Many members of our audience grew up in a time when reading was one of the only pass time activities they had to engage in.  This gave our group an interesting perspective on the importance of reading in these individual’s lives.
For those members of the audience who had not finished the book by the time our group presented, there was an overwhelming response that they could not wait to finish reading.  Some were even interested in reading Jack London’s biography, Wolf, since our presentation used some information from that book.  Seeing the resident’s faces light up while talking about what reading means to them was encouraging in regards to the future of reading.

The Future of Reading
The future of reading is crucial. The Big Read program aims to tackle the problem of the lack of reading, particularly males from 16 to 25. With the previous in mind, doing an event at the County Home may help increase reading. How? The event probably should have been open to the residents’ family members. Family members include children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. If family members of the residents were allowed to attend the event, they would have seen (as stated above) the glow on the faces of audience members. The glow and the event would show people the enjoyment and “wild” adventure that reading and discussing books has to offer.
How does society fix the problem of the lack reading within the United States? The education system is, perhaps, the most important “thing” that can change to better and help the problem. Though, the education system today is something people are not pleased with. Some argue the education system started to decline with the “No Child Left Behind Act” under George W. Bush. It goes to show that people like to point fingers when something goes wrong or is unsuccessful. The education system isn’t the only “thing” that can change. Parents need to introduce their children to reading through various ways. Though, parents tend to find it is easier to let children watch television or play video games. 

The Big Read is a horse of a different color.  Community partners who participate within the program are beneficial to the areas and people within of the location. Hopefully, the Big read program will tackle the goals set forth with help from students, parents, professors and community partners.

To conclude everything gained from the Big Read program cannot be described with words. Everyone who participated within the program clearly shares a love of literature unmatched by any material object and activity.  Furthermore, the love of literature goes hand-in-hand with the goal of the Big Read, to promote literacy.  Reading is an adventure that can be compared to Buck’s journey, difficult times, loss, love, trust, cruelty and epiphany. All of which prove to be a wild ride.

Please visit the sites below for more information about SUNY Fredonia, the Big Read and the County Home.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Answering “The Call of the Wild” on New York’s Amish Trail

     One community member at our discussion held at Randolph Free library in Randolph, New York shared an interesting story about her labradoodle, “Polly”. She said that during the summer Polly would walk up the street to the local ice cream stand and wait in line where the employees would give her a bowl of ice cream. She would then take the bowl back down the street and bring it back home to eat in the front yard.

     Our audience at the Randolph library was very intrigued with how Jack London’s Call of the Wild contemplated human and animal interactions. Polly’s owner saw her dog as a family member who she shared a special bond with, much like the intimate connection that John Thornton shared with Buck. Our group contemplated how the introduction of a dog as the main character of the novel affected the way we felt about the events in the plot. Are humans a part of the primal order just as Buck is in London`s novel? Buck’s transformative experience of changing from a domesticated house pet to a primordial ruler of the wild was of particular fascination to our discussion group.

     We traveled to Randolph on Monday February 25th, 2013 at 6pm with the intention of leading a discussion of The Call of the Wild focused on the historical and political context of the novel.  The historical richness of the Randolph community inspired this topic. We prepared to present information on American imperialism, the economic climate prior to the London’s writing, Jack London’s life, and the Klondike gold rush. We prepared a visual that our attendees found appealing and fun to look at. There was a wide variety of knowledge about these historical events among our three participants, and they were happy to actively participate in this part of the discussion. The life of Jack London particularly interested the group due to his brief incarceration in Buffalo, New York.

     Our discussion even went beyond the novel itself, as we seemed to spark an interest in literature in general. The discussion centered on how the novel compared to similar novels of the time, other author’s writing styles, historical events happening around the time of the novels publication, major events that have taken place since, and Jack London himself. Our participants showed a deep appreciation for the literary world and clearly saw how the novel functions in a social sphere.

     The community members in attendance discussed how having university English majors leading the discussion made for a much more interesting and beneficial conversation. Quite often community members who are intrigued by the idea of discussing literature in the public sphere lack an environment that provides a beneficial and enriching analysis. Specifically, our discussion participants spoke of how their own book club discussion did not necessarily meet the same standards as the discussion we were able to provide. Also, the experience proved to be mutually beneficial, as it provided an opportunity for us to apply our skills developed as English majors in a real-world situation outside of the classroom.

     Our experience while putting together this event was exciting and informative. We learned a lot about Jack London’s Call of the Wild, about how warm and welcoming the community can be, and how we as English majors can have a positive impact in the community.

     We would like to thank everyone who gave us the opportunity to have this wonderful experience with the NEA’s Big Read and in particular we would like to thank the Randolph Free Library for hosting the event. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

NEA Big Read Event at Patterson Library by Ayla Dziduch, Thomas Beiter, and Pilar Padrón

NEA Big Read Event at Patterson Library by Ayla Dziduch, Thomas Beiter, and Pilar Padrón

      We presented at the Patterson Library in Westfield, NY. We had a modest event of six people. The intimacy of our event led to a wonderful and enriching discussion, that really helped to accomplish what the NEA has set out to do.

Why did we do the Big Read? What is the Big Read about?
    The National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) started the Big Read Program in 2006 as a way to try to bring back the enjoyment of leisurely reading into the American Culture and to revitalize the role of reading and literature. Since its national launch in 2007 there has been over one thousand Big Read events nationwide.

Who was Jack London?

       Born as John Griffith in January of 1876 in San Francisco, California, Jack London grew up within the working class in the Oakland Slums. He spent his time doing odd jobs such as sealing ships, shoveling coal, pirating oysters, and working in a cannery, and spending all of his free time in a library with his nose buried in any novel or travel book he could get his hands on. His writing career didn't begin until his mother heard about a writing contest through their local paper where he won first place out writing writers from Stanford and Berkeley. From then on, London made a point to write down at least one thousand words each day and soon began publishing in the Overland Monthly to get his name and work known in the public eye.
    At the age of twenty seven, London published his first novel The Call of the Wild in 1903 with great success. London published a total of fifty novels within his short life time, was married twice, and had two daughters. London soon died from a life long battle against Kidney Disease on November 22, 1916.

The importance of the Klondike Gold Rush:

          The Klondike Gold Rush was the setting of the novel. Gold was discovered in the Klondike region of the Yukon in August of 1896. The Yukon region is located in Northwest Canada. The gold rush lasted from 1896 until the year 1899. Prospectors came from all over the West Coast of the United States, coming from as far as San Francisco. At most 30,000-40,000 prospectors actually made it into Canada, for they were told to turn around when they reached as far as Seattle if they did not have the necessary provisions (which was about 1,500 lbs. of food and supplies). The remoteness of the region of where the gold actually existed was small, hard to find, and even harder to reach. The peak of the gold rush brought in roughly 1.139 million American dollars in 1899, which is comparable to $1 Billion today. Most prospectors didn’t even reach gold, as only around 4,000 actually struck gold. 

The list of the supplies needed were as follows:

                               Clothing and supplies:
-2 suits heavy knit underwear        -1 mackinaw, coat, pants, shirt
-6 pairs wool socks                        -1 pair heavy buck lined mitts
-1 pairs heavy moccasins              -1 pair unlined leather gloves
 -2 pairs german stockings             -1 duck coat, pants, vest
-2 heavy flannel overshirts             -6 towels
-1 heavy woolen sweater               -1 pocket matchbox, buttons, needles and
-1 pair overalls                                 thread
-2 pairs 12-lb. blankets                   -1 mirror and toothbrush
-1 waterproof blanket                      -mosquito netting
-1 dozen bandana handkerchiefs    -1 sleeping bag
-1 stiff brim cowboy hat
-1 pair hip rubber boots
-1 pair high land boots

           Food and other supplies:
-100 lbs navy beans             -1/2 lb. mustard                    -1 lb. citric acid
-150 lbs. bacon                    -1/4 lb. vinegar
-400 lbs. flour                       -2 doz. condensed milk
-40 lbs. rolled oats               -20 lbs. evaporated potatoes
-20 lbs. corn meal               -5 lbs. evaporated onions
-10 lbs. rice                         -6 tins beef extract
-25 lbs. sugar                      -75 lbs. evaporated fruits
-10 lbs. tea                          -4 pkgs. yeast cakes
-20 lbs. coffee                     -20 lbs. candles
-10 lbs. baking powder        -1 pkg. tin matches
-20 lbs. salt                          -6 lbs. laundry soap
-1 lb. pepper                        -1/2 lb ground ginger
-2 lbs. baking soda              -25 hard tack
What is the important need to know information about the novel?

              The novel was written in 1903. The main character Buck is a large St. Bernard/Scottish Shepherd Mix. This equips him greatly for the wild. After four years as a domestic dog, Buck is stolen from his comfortable home life and sold in to the life of being a sled dog, participating in the Gold Rush. Upon being reintroduced to a more wild life, Buck quickly rediscovers his primordial side and takes charge of the pack becoming the leader. Buck was sold a few times until finding love and comfort in his final owner John Thornton. John is his last attachment to his human side. Upon John’s death, Buck abandons his human side and takes his place permanently with a wild pack of wolves.

What influenced Jack London's writing of this novel?

    On July 25, 1897, Jack London started participating in the Gold Rush. He spent several weeks in the Yukon wilderness observing sled dogs and what it was like to be a part of the Gold Rush. During these weeks London was inspired to write The Call of the Wild. He learned about breed and behavior from his interaction with sled dogs. This interaction inspired the character Buck greatly, as well as the other dogs. These personal experiences inspired The Call of the Wild.

Join Our Discussion! It is YOUR turn!

  • What are the several meanings of the call of the wild?
    • The call that Buck feels VS the call that the humans feel?
    • Are they different or just disguised in different beings?
  • Are humans still driven by this instinctual animalistic side today? In what ways?

    • If not, what makes humans different than animals or in this case dogs?

                 Which is more important in this novel, animal nature or human nature?     


Works Cited:

  • Courbin-Tavernier, Jacqueline.”The Call of the Wild and the Jungle: Jack
                 London’s and Upton Sinclair’s Animal and Human Jungles”. The .
                 Cambridge Companion to American Realism and Naturalism Howells
                 to London. Ed. Donald Pizer.Cambridge University Press. 236-262.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Big Read at Buster Brown in Fredonia

Community involvement and public dialogue, the fine tuning of skills in collaborative efforts are natural complements to any major in the humanities. Even if they are mostly “honored only in the breach,” the capacity of the arts to promote empathy, critical analysis and appreciation of beauty are limited if we do not extend these teachings into the public realm. Such practice is being curtailed as the humanities lose out to “practical” fields of studies in the realms of science and technology. The Big Read is the acknowledgment of the danger this poses. According to the National Endowment of the Arts’ website, The Big Read was, “designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment.” Specifically it is mentioned that the target demographic for this program is young boys between 11 and 15. Through participation of the event, what conclusions might be drawn about the efficacy of The Big Read program in achieving its goals?
At our event, aside from the presenters, there were but 10 people who came. Of them, all had read The Call of the Wild for the event; for some it was the second time with the book. Among all of those who participated in our discussion group, we talked about many different topics relating to the novel, both in depth and broad, both critical and anecdotal. For example, a critical topic that was covered was that of survival of the fittest in the book and, in a similar vein, whether those in the group thought that Buck evolved or devolved throughout the book. And a anecdotal offering, for instance, was provided by one community member who mentioned that, every time something bad or hurtful happened to Buck, she would take a brief pause from reading and cuddle with her own dog. The audience was uniformly adult, with two college age individuals, and two professors from the SUNY Fredonia English Department. The rest were elderly. In this respect, the program cannot be reasonably declared a success, though the conversation was lively and critical.
Problems may be located with how the program was pitched to the demographic in question. While advertisement was centralized mainly to public areas trafficked by people who already consider themselves avid readers (book stores, libraries, etc.) there is little evidence to show that any special efforts were made in the way of outreach towards young people, much less young boys. Literature is at odds with many of the current trends in media production.
First, it requires active participation. The youth of today have been conditioned to accept almost exclusively passive forms of entertainment in the way of television, movies and the internet. Even those media which might push their audience to participate, like video games, still rely, at least initially, on raw visual stimulation to keep the audience interested.
Second, literature is forced to compete with the omnipresence of electronic media and the “140 characters or less” format. This is a reference to the shortened attention spans, and even immunities to excessive external stimuli that has resulted from the overload of information that saturates young people’s consciousness almost constantly.
Organizers of the Big Read recognize the detrimental effects that a decrease in literacy can have in society. These factors are only going to proliferate as technology advances and unless literature is sold and promoted in a way that accommodates these trends its presence will slowly dwindle among future generations. Jack London and Ray Bradbury will find themselves increasingly relegated to academia, or at best to overworked Hollywood adaptations. The Big Read strives to renew the public interest in literature and brings it to an intimate community setting.
In promoting future Big Reads, these factors need to be taken into account— so long as 11-15 year old males are the target demographic. Online marketing techniques may be employed, or different age groups, or sexes should be targeted.
This does not mean that a small turnout for The Big Read is an unsuccessful one.
On the contrary, The Big Read events bring people of selected communities together, though not necessarily due to the initially intended goal of promoting literacy.
Take those who planned, organized and constructed the events for The Big Read, for example. There are dozens or people, if not more, who all collaborated in order to produce an organized series of events. In conditions without The Big Read, these people may never have came together and, even if they did happen to interact at some point, it would certainly not have been in the capacity that The Big Read orchestrated. The English students who worked with school officials, community members and each other, especially, benefited from developing their communication skills in such an applicable manner to their futures in the field.
Even those who did not directly get to work side by side in organizing The Big Read events for our town were able to, eventually, work with members of the community through the actual planned discussion events. These people in the community, too, would not have ever come in contact with many of the college students that planned and participated in these events.
But, because of The Big Read, there was a dialogue between all of these different people. And this is the case for each and every community that participated in The Big Read, a total of 78 towns and cities. While The Big Read didn’t necessarily produce the outcomes that they had originally planned for this literacy promoting campaign, The Big Read did bring people together. And that’s a start.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Big Read at the Lakeshore Humane Society

         The Lakeshore Humane society turned out to be the perfect setting for a book discussion based around a text with an inhuman protagonist. As the primary character of The Call of the Wild, Buck serves as the feature point of interest, and he was the perfect launching point for our discussion. The group was enthusiastic, interested, and well prepared for an engaging conversation about the novel. Everyone seemed to be “on the same page”, so to speak, about the powerful effect the novel had on us as animal-lovers. Twenty eight people gathered in a small meeting area to discuss the issues of animal advocacy and the nature of beasts, as well as to support the World Wildlife Fund Organization’s Gray Wolf Adoption Sponsorship. 
       Initially, we raised the question of the effectiveness of Buck’s role as the protagonist. Several people responded that since Buck was a dog, he was more relatable and more empathetic (rather than if he were a human character). This caused one person to raise the question of what Buck’s being a dog had to do with the success of the plot, and whether or not we would feel the same way if Buck was a human and the story was about human slavery. Collectively, the group seemed to agree that undertones of slavery were inherent in the text already and that no matter what, human connectivity is a part of us and therefore a part of what we read. 
Was Buck bored by if before he was hurled into the world of terror in the Northland, were the Law of Club and Fang reigned? When Buck was kidnapped to pull the sled, he transformed into something faster, stronger, and even more magnificent. However, was this change a matter of regression or transcendence? Did Buck revert back to a simpler way of life, or was the call of the wild about rising above the trials of his present circumstance? In the end, we all agreed, survival means to protect yourself above all others. What, then, does it mean that Buck, even in his elevated state of wild consciousness in the final chapter, still holds a glimmer of love for the human John Thornton?
Inevitably, the conversation turned to people’s own pets and whether or not they thought their dogs had a primordial beast within them or not. An amusing discussion, but it touched upon the importance of human and animal relationships. This refers to the fact that even some sled dogs in the novel were better equipped for living in the wild, but it was Buck who proved to be the most capable in the end.  It was Buck who started off as someone’s pet and had never had a taste of the wild.
During our Big Read event, we had the pleasure of being in the presence of educators- from the primary level to collegiate.  This turned part of our discussion into a comparison of the usefulness of this canonized novel.  At the elementary level, one teacher noted that the text was found most interesting by young men, which is very meaningful.  Research has shown that younger men are less likely to read for enjoyment, but this novel has the capabilities of bringing back the “fun” in “reading for fun.”
        Something that really piqued everyone’s interest was the brief discussion we had about Jack London’s relationship with his own dog. London was an interesting guy who spent a significant amount of time cultivating a philosophy about life and writing and how to navigate the hardship in life without losing heart. He gives a great deal of worthy advice to young writers, and to young people in general struggling to hold onto their humanity in a cold, wild world. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Anderson Lee-ding the Pack!

It was a perfect chilly night at Anderson Lee Library in Silver Creek to collaborate together and discuss Jack London’s The Call of the Wild.  Our group spanned a large range including a family who had read the short novel aloud to each other, the library’s normal book club members, as well as several SUNY Fredonia students!  This range proved to bring many interesting topics of discussion up and a large array of perspective!  It was very helpful that everyone involved had finished reading the novel, and for some this reading was a second experience. 

Gender:  We all noticed the lack of female characters throughout The Call of the Wild.  There were two female dogs.  The first was literally torn apart by other male dogs, perhaps because she couldn’t handle a lifestyle this demanding.  And the second female dog lost her mind, chased Buck around the tundra, and was axed to death.  The only other female role was the high-maintenance woman named Mercedes.  She had no intellect to survive in harsh conditions and often road inside the sled, forcing the dogs to take her weight as if their lives weren’t difficult enough.  As a group, we decided that in this time period women weren’t the people out searching for gold and adventure in the Arctic tundra, women were homemakers.

Personification:  One of the most stimulating topics of discussion was the personification of the dogs.  Given that they were given in depth emotional capacity, what was Jack London trying to say about the dogs?  We overall concluded that the dogs can represent humans, but they also stand in representing themselves, dogs.  There was a lot of interesting feedback in this discussion and it eventually led to the idea of racism.  Man is represented as superior, yet all of the human characters in the novel were not near as developed as the animals.  The only exception we could think of was the rabbit that caused the raucous leading to Buck becoming the lead dog.

Wealth:  Another topic we discussed was the concept of wealth throughout the novel and how it was represented.  Buck was kidnapped and sold in order for a man (with a gambling problem, no less) to afford to feed his family.  When the dog team receives Mercedes and her husband and brother as new masters, Mercedes is forced to leave behind most of the wealth of their possessions in order to seek out gold during this gold rush, in order to gain more wealth.  It seems to be a vicious cycle that results in only negative, especially for Mercedes and her family.  But on the other hand, can we might be able to attribute Buck’s freedom to the desire of wealth, even if it wasn’t his personal desire.


We would like to thank the Anderson Lee Library for making this such an enjoyable experience as well as everyone who was able to attend!  Thank you all for your company and pleasurable discussion on the Call of the Wild!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Call of the Wild and the Big Read: a Great Experience

This year, our English Senior Seminar class in SUNY Fredonia participated in great program called The Big Read. For those of you who don’t know what the Big Read is, the official website defines it as “a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment.” Every year, the NEA features a selection of literature from which participants (community members, schools, and businesses, to name a few) can choose to read and discuss over blogs, videos, and Big Read events like the one our class participated in.
The goal here is, specifically, to increase public exposure to and engagement with classic literature—but it also served as an opportunity for us English majors to see how our skills in literature could operate in a public setting.
The Location
Our class was assigned Jack London’s The Call of the Wild to read, discuss, and, in small groups or pairs, build a discussion/presentation based on the novel for the community partners we were assigned to. My partner, Lauren, and I worked together for about four weeks, debating points of interest, elements of writing and story and the like to facilitate the book discussion we would be leading out in a public setting. Our event was hosted by a great little bookstore in Jamestown, NY called Novel Destination. If you live in the Jamestown area I would highly recommend checking it out!
The Material
 The Call of the Wild is of those novels that can be enjoyed by everyone. It’s short and easy to read, for one thing, but also quite artful.  I remember reading this book as a kid and loving it because it reminded me of the movie Homeward Bound. The book can appeal to young readers for the danger and adventure and indomitable spirit of the story as they follow Buck’s transformation from abducted family pet to Klondike sled dog to feral killer. But there are deeper elements to the story—like social commentary, self-transformation, the regression from domestication to wildness—not to mention the features of London’s writing itself, which can give more mature audiences a lot to think about as well.
The Preparation
Lauren and I listened to several other groups in our class who had already presented to their community partners, and it sounded like attendance to the events was turning out to be a little disappointing. Three to eight attendees seemed to be the norm. So we were both a little nervous for our event, because it can be tough to have an engaging discussion (of the kind we had prepared for, at least) with only a few people. However, Carrie, the owner of Novel Destination with whom we talked a lot about discussion topics, was expecting a big turn-out.
Carrie really liked the idea of explaining who Jack London really was and what was going on during the time of this novel’s publication. She also told us that (even though this book is for all ages) we should prepare our discussion for a group made up of adults.  So we made a little brochure handout with a short biography of Jack London’s life, as well as some information about what was going on during the time of the novel’s setting (the Klondike Gold Rush), and prepped our notes/topics to be flexible and adaptable to what our attendees brought up.
The Event
Our turnout was incredible. We had about thirteen people show up who were eager and ready to discuss the book. Some were retired English teachers who had read the book numerous times and had unique insights and opinions on the novel. There were others who had only just read it, and enjoyed it for the story’s own sake. Lauren and I sat at the front of the room, facing the crowd, but luckily they didn’t take that as indication that this would be a lecture.
Right off the bat, people were talking back and forth to each other, agreeing and disagreeing on different points, building off of this or that person’s insights. We had been optimistic coming into the event—we felt well-prepared and confident in our familiarity with the story—but we were blown away with how easy it was, and how much fun, to fill that hour-and-a-half. Lauren and I had made a general outline of how we wanted the discussion to flow, but we didn’t really need it—the conversation naturally moved to every topic that we had wanted to bring up, as well as many other insights from the readers. There was never a lull or awkward silence—we had highly interested, engaged attendees. And later, it occurred to us that quality, not quantity, is what really makes or breaks a book discussion like ours.
So, if you haven’t participated in The Big Read, I highly recommend that you take a look at the program, grab a book, and engage yourself in community discussions (locations of events are posted online if you search a little). You don’t have to be an English major to appreciate and enjoy, and benefit from, this awesome program—get involved!