Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Intergenerational Book Club

The day finally came.  Today was the first meeting of the Intergenerational Book Club.  The club is made up of Franklin, MA, High School students and Franklin senior citizens from the Senior Center.  We met at Franklin High School.  The book was You Bring The Distant Near, by Mitali Perkins.

We were greeted with bingo cards.  This was an icebreaker exercise where we had to socialize to fill out the squares on our bingo cards.  We had to find someone who had been to Paris, someone who plays a musical instrument, someone who is left-handed, etc.  The prize was a mango.  Mangoes originated from India.

We played bingo until it was time for our interview with the author, Mitali Perkins.  This was a skype interview.  Mitali was in her bedroom and we could see her plainly.  She saw us sitting in a classroom.  For 45 minutes we asked her questions.  She surprised us and we surprised her. 

You can't say you don't like Indian food because there are 29 states and 7 union territories in India and each one has its own language and food.  We learned how important Rabindranath Tagore is.  We surprised her with questions about her writing.  Why did you write the grandmother in third person and everyone else in first person?  Was the book biographical at all?

You Bring The Distant Near was inspired by Mitali's life.  She was all the characters at one time or another.  The book is about three generations of American Indian refugees.  The thread of how our personal histories are carried forward, travels throughout the story.  Not one person disliked the book.

After interviewing Mitali for 45 minutes we ate tandoori desi chicken tikka, vegetable pakora, samosa, white rice, mango, and orange/mango juice.  While eating we chatted about the skyped interview.  But it was afterward, when the young and the old sat together, that the discussion became rich.  The young identified with the second generation and the senior citizens with the grandmother and grandfather.  All could relate to the feelings of all the characters. But we each had our favorites. We explained how discrimination is perceived now, and back in the day.  Since the high schoolers were still young and impressionable, their sensitivities towards race, religion, class, and gender were more heightened than the senior citizens.  Whereas the seniors were sensitive to age discrimination and the teens weren't even conscious of that.

One thing we all agreed on was the success of the first meeting of the Intergenerational Book Club.  And we all look forward to another book and discussion.

1 comment:

Faith said...

Here is a link to a pictorial essay on it. https://sites.google.com/franklinps.net/franklin-high-library-intergen/home

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