University Of New Mexico Reading Program Aims To Build Community

UNM Reading Program Aims To Build Community
Freshmen urged to read book on immigration

By Martin Salazar
The Albuquerque Journal (NM), September 14, 2009 [Subscription]

Even before stepping foot on campus, University of New Mexico freshmen were asked to do some homework.

That homework was reading 'Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration' by Sam Quinones, who now writes for The Los Angeles Times.

Participation in the freshman reading program isn't mandatory, but university officials hope it will help build community on the sprawling campus and get people at UNM to explore the issue of immigration.

Freshman reading programs are common throughout the United States, but this has been UNM's first attempt at launching one.

'I really have hopes that this will begin to build a sense of intellectual community that for all of our education and academic horsepower on campus, we don't often have,' said Wynn Goering, UNM's vice provost.

As part of its socalled Lobo Reading Experience, the university has been hosting discussion sessions throughout campus and will host lectures focusing on immigration.

Quinones, who lived in Mexico for 10 years as a freelance journalist, will be at UNM at 7 p.m. Tuesday to discuss his book at the Continuing Education Center. And former Mexican President Vicente Fox will lecture on immigration Sept. 21 at Popejoy Hall.

Goering said the idea to launch a freshman reading program came from Provost Suzanne Ortega, who 'thought it was a really good way to build some engagement and some community with the freshman class starting even before they got on campus.' A committee was formed to choose the book, and 'Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream' was selected.

'We were looking for something that would have particular relevance for the Southwest,' Goering said.

The book is a collection of true stories that delves into the lives of Mexican immigrants and explores the impact of immigration on both sides of the border.

'The challenge over time will be to build participation in something that's not a required experience,' Goering said. 'We have a number of instructors that have chosen to use it in their classrooms for assignments. When Sam Quinones is going to be on campus, there are some others that have invited him in to talk to their classes, so we're going to engage people that way.'

Lobo Reading Experience events

Author Sam Quinones will discuss his book, 'Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration,' at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Continuing Education Center. He will sign copies from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday at the UNM Bookstore.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox will speak from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 21 at Popejoy Hall. Free, but tickets are required. They will be available to the general public beginning Tuesday at the UNM Student Services Center, 1155 University, and at the UNM Bookstore on main campus. Tickets also will be available online at or at local Albertsons stores, but service fees may apply.