Twenty-five Goshen College faculty and staff members came together for the Borderlands book group’s dinner meeting and reading discussion on Tuesday night.
Each semester, members of the Borderlands book group read one book and come together for discussion. The spring selection was “The Guardians,” a novel by Ana Castillo. The story takes place in the area between Chihuahua, Mexico and Texas. It tells the story of a woman named Tia Regina and her journey to reunite and protect her family. It features Mexican-American family bonds and cultural experiences.
Last fall, the group read “The Devil’s Highway,” a non-fiction book by Luis Alberto Urrea. The book features an investigative report about 26 men who attempted to cross the border from Sonora, Mexico, into the desert of southern Arizona.
Borderlands is coordinated by Ann Hostetler, chair of the English department, and Lisa Carreno, director of Good Library.
According to Hostetler, the purpose of the group is to help generate communication among faculty about the issue of border crossing. The books and dinner meetings are funded by the Center for Intercultural and International Education (CIIE).
When asked why they chose the borderland theme and book selection, Hostetler and Carreno both said that it came from their personal interests in Mexican-American border issues and Latino contemporary literature.
Hostetler shared that while doing a program in the Middlebury Library on books about love and forgiveness, she was introduced to Latino contemporary literature and stories about the border issues. Her experience of teaching the Latino Literature class at Goshen College inspires her to share the books with other faculty members.
“We use this book [“The Guardians”] in the class, and the students loved it, so I thought it would be great if we could have a reading group for the faculty to share it,” Hostetler said.
In the meeting on Tuesday, group members learned about the general geography of the areas mentioned in “The Guardians” and shared reflections on the story.
According to Carreno, the discussion was not only about the geographical border issues, but also about internal, personal, familial and societal borders.
The meeting was constructed with the “Mirror-Window” method. The readers mirror the story to see what can be related to their personal lives.
“We look at the text of the book, and we look at the text of our lives,” Hostetler said. “What borders have you crossed in your own life? What does it feel like to cross the border? How has the border shaped you?”
When they get connected with the story, said Hostetler, they will be more emotionally engaged with the issue and look for what is new in it, so they can learn it more deeply.
“For us as educators, it is very helpful to reflect on your own education life,” Hostetler said. “Look at what you brought up in life and what you learn from the book and connect the two together.”