Independent Minds, Working Together

Summer Reading 2013

Sonia Nazario, Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with his Mother

What does it mean to be a College of Wooster student? Our liberal arts education—in all its components—aims to develop in its graduates the capacities “to become leaders of character and influence in an interdependent global community.” The many dimensions of this education are expressed in the Graduate Qualities, and may be summarized in the phrase, Independent Minds, Working Together. What does this mean, and how will Wooster’s mission challenge you as you enter the College and progress toward graduation?

Much can be said about these ideals and questions, but for now, starting with the Summer Reading Program, the focus is on the core skills of critical inquiry: critical reading, critical thinking, and communicating clearly with others, in writing, in speech, and in listening. The purpose of the Summer Reading Program is to provide a challenging assignment for critical reading, thinking, and writing, to engage you with the mission of The College of Wooster from the first days you are on campus, in the ARCH program, in New Student Orientation, and the first day of classes.

Required Writing Assignment

Before you arrive on campus for New Student Orientation, read Enrique’s Journey and write an essay (500-700 words) on this book using one of the writing prompts listed below.

This essay provides both an opportunity for discussion of the book with your FYS class and professor, and a first writing assignment that will provide a benchmark for beginning to work with you in developing the skills of critical inquiry that are necessary for success at Wooster and beyond. Engagement with this book will also serve as an entry point for participating in the intellectual community of Wooster in relation to the Fall Forum – Facing Race. The Forum Series will begin during New Student Orientation with a lecture by Derald Wing Sue on Friday morning, August 23, and continue throughout Fall Semester, including Sonia Nazario on Tuesday, September 17. Student authors whose essays demonstrate noteworthy critical engagement with Enrique’s Journey will be invited for small group dinners with Sonia Nazario and various Forum Series speakers throughout Fall Semester.

Use the ideas and questions offered here to facilitate your reading and thinking about Enrique’s Journey. When you arrive on campus, bring the book, your essay, and any related notes and thoughts, so that you will be prepared both to begin benefiting from and contributing to Wooster’s community of learners.

I wish you the best as you start your Wooster education.

Henry B. Kreuzman
Dean for Curriculum
and Academic Engagement

Sonia Nazario, Enrique’s Journey Essay Prompts

  • One definition of privilege is “unearned advantage.” How is privilege apparent in Enrique’s Journey? For example, what role does privilege – or lack of privilege – play in the opportunities available to Enrique, Lourdes, and/or María Isabel, as well as the choices that they make?
  • Sonia Nazario documents many instances of generosity toward migrants, often extended by those who have very little in terms of material wealth. How does her book connect to Wooster’s Graduate Qualities? How could the book facilitate or hinder a reader’s development of Civic and Social Responsibility.
  • There is a tension between U.S. national identity as a “nation of immigrants” and the desire for a homogenous national identity. How do the lived experiences of the individuals featured in Nazario’s book exemplify America’s troubled historical relationship with immigrants and immigration?
  • Sonia Nazario uses Enrique as a case study to put a face on the larger “Latino” immigrant experience. She refers to immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and South America, as well as to persons born in the United States who can trace their family heritage to a Spanish-speaking country as “Latino.” How does this contribute – or fail to contribute – to a richer understanding of the differences between Latino communities?
  • As Nazario makes clear in the “Afterword,” immigration is a complex interplay of political, economic, and social factors which draw parents and children to the United States from Central America. How do the experiences of Enrique and his family fit into the history of the United States as a nation of immigrants? How does Enrique’s story confirm or complicate the notion of the American Dream?
  • Sonia Nazario is describing Enrique’s journey, but she is also providing a perspective about our obligations to others. For example, she recounts that Padre Leo asserted, “Jesus wasn’t killed for doing miracles. It was because he defended the poor and opposed the rulers and the injustice committed by the powerful” (Narzario 173). She also notes that Peña says, “Padre Leo has taught me to give to others without expecting anything in return” (Nazario 177). What does Nazario’s book suggest about our obligations to others? Do you agree or disagree with her and why?

Your essay should be 500-700 words, and please provide your name and the title of your essay.

Once your essay is complete: