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Queen’s Reads sparks meaningful conversations on campus

'The Boy on the Beach' panel event for common reading program fosters discussion around the global refugee crisis.

Queen's Reads panel discusses The Boy on the Beach
Panel members discuss the Queen's Reads featured book, The Boy on the Beach, by Tima Kurdi. From left: Lauren Di Felice, Pathy Foundation Fellow; Wessam Ayad from the KEYS Job Centre; Sharry Aiken, an associate professor in the Faculty of Law; Yu Jier Kou of Immigrant Services of Kingston and Area; and Reena Kukreja, an assistant professor in Global Development and Cultural Studies. (Supplied photo)

Building on the success of the 2019-20 Queen’s Reads program, the Student Experience Office (SEO) held a panel event to discuss key themes from this year’s literary selection.

The Boy on the Beach is a true story about the family of Alan Kurdi, the two-year-old boy who became the global emblem for the Syrian refugee crisis after his body washed up on a beach and was photographed.

Author Tima Kurdi, Alan’s aunt, is now an internationally-recognized spokesperson on the global refugee crisis.

Kurdi’s poignant memoir explores many important topics, including newcomer experiences, the global refugee crisis, and the politicization of tragedy.

The panel event, entitled The Global Refugee Crisis and Our Community’s Role, brought together students, staff, and community members to discuss the scope of the refugee crisis and what is being done on a local and federal level.

Attendees gathered in Mitchell Hall to hear from a group of experts and individuals who have experienced the effects of the global refugee crisis.

The panelists included: Reena Kukreja, an assistant professor in Global Development and Cultural Studies; Wessam Ayad from the KEYS Job Centre; Sharry Aiken, an associate professor in the Faculty of Law; Lauren Di Felice, Pathy Foundation Fellow; and Yu Jier Kou of Immigrant Services of Kingston and Area.

“I appreciated the diversity of the guest speakers on the panel, and enjoyed hearing their perspectives,” says Angela Sahi, a third-year Global Development Studies student who attended the event. “I was also able to better understand the local context of this global crisis through the focus on migrant experiences in Kingston.”

The Student Experience Office, a unit of Student Affairs, conducts the Queen’s Reads program every year, which aims to engage the Queen’s community in a productive and meaningful dialogue.

This year, the Student Experience Office has distributed more than 4,000 free copies of The Boy on the Beach to students and members of the Queen’s community. Due to the overwhelming success of this year’s program, the Student Experience Office will be starting a “pass it on” campaign to ensure that all students who wish to read the book will have the opportunity.

“We are excited that students, faculty and staff have been participating in programming and reading The Boy on the Beach," says Kevin CollinsStudent Development Coordinator and the organizer of the Queen's Reads program. "Tima Kurdi will be visiting our campus on March 11 to speak to students and Kingston and Queen’s community members.”

To learn more about Queen’s Reads, visit the Student Experience Office website.