UWM selects ‘The Latehomecomer’ for 2013 Common Read

All first-year students will read memoir of Hmong diaspora

Incoming UW-Milwaukee freshmen can add The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir” to their summer reading list. UWM First Year Center Director Ericca Pollack announced Monday that Kao Kalia Yang’s “The Latehomecomer” is the official UWM 2013 Common Read selection. First-year students will receive the book at New Student Orientation this summer, then read and discuss with fellow incoming students as part of Fall Welcome 2013. Faculty and staff will facilitate the reading groups.

“The goal of the Common Read is to create a relatable and sharable academic experience among all incoming first-year students and an early connection with a faculty member,” says Pollack. “Discussion is a valuable community-based experience, and this year’s book is well suited for first-year students who are learning to navigate a new educational environment.”

“I am excited to visit the university, meet some of its students and speak to its population about the story that I come from and the stories that live inside all of us,” says Yang, who will speak at UWM in October. “I believe this is the first time a Hmong-authored book has been selected by such a huge university for such a big reading audience.”

The 2013 Common Read is co-sponsored by the Student Success Center and the Center for Instructional and Professional Development at UWM. It is part of Fall Welcome 2013, a series of events and experiences to welcome new and returning students to UWM held Aug. 28-Sept. 8.

Kao Kalia Yang

“The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir” details the journey of Yang and her family as they emigrate from Thailand’s Ban Vinai Refugee Camp to St. Paul, Minn. Common Read organizers hope that incoming freshmen will be able to relate to the story and engage with the themes of identity, belonging, pride and culture during their own relocation process. Common Read organizers hope the book will also help showcase existing curricular programs at UWM and generate exciting and important discussions among students, faculty and staff.

Led by Mary Mullen of the university’s Center for 21st Century Studies, members of the Common Read selection committee lauded “The Latehomecomer” for its ability to teach about Hmong history and culture. Mullen adds that Yang’s explanation of her struggles and victories will help incoming students gain the confidence they need to conquer their struggles and be successful in their college careers.

The UWM 2013 Common Read builds on UWM’s successful inaugural 2012 Common Read: Marjane Satrapi’s “The Complete Persepolis.” Last year’s read concluded with a lecture from author and humorist Firoozeh Dumas.

Author Kao Kalia Yang will wrap up the 2013 Common Read with a lecture at the UWM Student Union on Oct. 16, 2013, 7 p.m. For more information visit commonread.uwm.edu