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WVU selects ‘The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After’ as 2020-2021 Campus Read

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"The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After" is WVU's 2020-21 Campus Read. (WVU Photo)

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A story of growth, family, survival and new beginnings will engross students, faculty and staff at West Virginia University as they encounter Clemantine Wamariya and her story of refugees from war and “the hope of the human spirit” in this year’s WVU Campus Read.

“The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After,” chronicles the journey of Wamariya’s close-knit family and their escape from the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and their moves through seven African countries before finally being granted refugee status in the United States with the help of her co-author, Elizabeth Weil. Wamariya discusses how she learned to cope with the scars of her past and her promising future.

“The Campus Read program provides the WVU community with a common intellectual experience. Wamariya’s compelling book, ‘The Girl Who Smiled Beads,’ offers a rich array of ways to critically engage with it that crosses disciplines,” said Rhonda Reymond, interim director of the WVU Humanities Center, which oversees the Campus Read. “It is a deeply moving story imbued with examples of resilience, the hope of the human spirit, the power of imagination and the difficult work of healing after a humanitarian crisis that will resonate with readers coming to campus this fall.”    

The Campus Read fosters an exchange of ideas, thoughtful dialogue and new connections as fellow Mountaineers join together to discuss important ideas about human experiences. It offers an opportunity to engage the campus, particularly first-year students, in a yearlong discussion about the themes of a single book.

Copies of “The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After” will be on sale in the WVU Bookstore. Incoming students and their families will also learn about this year’s Campus Read during virtual New Student Orientation.

Throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, there will also be opportunities for faculty and staff to incorporate the book into courses and programs at all levels and on all campuses. Additional faculty resources, including suggested classroom activities, readings, discussion guides and more, are available on the Campus Read website. 

The program committee is developing events centered around “A Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After” and its themes of survival, perseverance and growth, among many others. All events will be open to the public and will be posted on the website as they are announced.

The WVU campus community was given the opportunity to suggest books for the 2020-21 Campus Read throughout the year at the Campus Read website. A selection committee of students, faculty and staff narrowed the list from those suggested. The committee reviewed books in a variety of genres and summarized the merits of each as a potential Campus Read in a report to the Provost’s Office, which makes the final determination. “The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After” topped the list as an unforgettable, powerful coming-of-age story ripe for discussion among so many disciplines across campus.

Faculty, staff and students are welcome to join the Campus Read Selection and Program Committees. Contact for information.



CONTACT: Rhonda Reymond,
Interim Director
WVU Humanities Center

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