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Central Washington University

Central Washington University uses "Big Read" activities to spark community discussion

Central Washington University's (CWU) Brooks Library is the only institution in the state of Washington to participate in the "Big Read" event this year.


The event is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), offering grants to support organizations developing community-wide programs to encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences.

Officials at CWU are challenging people throughout Kittitas County to read along with them the novel, "The Things They Carried" by Tim O’Brien and then start talking.

"It's really healthy for communities to be talking about the same issues and having a community discussion about topics that are important," Gerard Hogan, CWU Reference Librarian.

The novel tells the stories of those who fought in the Vietnam war and brings up hard topics.

"It involves a college graduate who got drafted during the Vietnam war and talks about issues of how we treat veterans. So there are issues that are not just looking back at the 1960's issues, but are issues that are important today," said Hogan.

Ellensburg Mayor, and a “Big Read” participant, Rich Elliott hopes those reading get a fresh perspective towards Vietnam veterans.

"This sort of refocuses that those people are still here, and we owe them and we need to make sure that we're providing the services that are appropriate,” said Elliott.

CWU’s Dean of Library says such reminders are important.

"We really need to have these reminders of what has happened in the past and hopefully learn from it," said Patricia Cutright.

Central Washington University will be hosting a number of events to keep people involved in the “Big Read” event, one of those is happening right here on campus at the Museum of Culture and Environment, where people can come and explore some of the things that matter to those within Kittitas County in “The Things We Carry" exhibit.

The exhibit ranges from heart wrenching war stories and international adoption, to cross-country road trips fueled by potato chips.

And at the end of the exhibit the museum invites you to sit down at a desk with its own story, to tell about the things you carry.

The big read's kick-off event will be held at the Clymer Museum and Gallery at 6 p.m. Friday night where Mayor Elliott and a local Vietnam veteran will speak, and you'll also be able to grab a free copy of the novel.

You can find a full list of “Big Read” events here.

Published February 3, 2017
By Jordan Lyle, KIMATV



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