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Students volunteer as part of Common Reading Program

As part of the Penn State Berks Common Reading program activities, first-year students are collecting donations from the college community for Opportunity House, the Reading emergency shelter, from September 7-17, 2010. Donation boxes are available in each building on campus.

The college's common reading program gives students the opportunity to have a shared experience with classmates and faculty members. In addition to the reading, community outreach activities are held that relate to the text. This year's selection is Strength in What Remains by Publitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder.

In this real-life narrative, Kidder tells the story of Deo, a young man who escaped from ethnic violence, civil war, and genocide in Burundi. He lands at JFK airport with two hundred dollars, no English-speaking skills, and no friends or family in the U.S. Deo carves out a precarious existence delivering groceries, living in Central Park, and learning English by reading dictionaries in bookstores. Then he begins to meet the people who will change his life, pointing him in the direction of Columbia University, medical school, and a life devoted to healing. Although Deo eventually becomes an American citizen, he returns to Burundi to build a clinic and public health system.

Strength in What Remains is the story of one man's inspiring American journey and of the people who helped him, providing brilliant testament to the power of second chances, the human will, and the endurance of the soul.

Penn State Berks students are getting an opportunity to help others by collecting donations for Opportunity House, a local non-profit multi-service organization that improves the quality of life for families, adults, and children who face various obstacles to independence, and supports their efforts to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency. Like most not-for-profit organizations, Opportunity House depends on the support of the community to maintain and strengthen programs.

Through the common reading program, first-year students will embark on a new adventure: becoming responsible and productive citizens of Penn State and the world.
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