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Workshop Provides Class of 2018 a Shared Literary, Reflective Experience

August 28, 2014 – First-year students arrived on campus ready for the shared experience of discussing award-winning writer and Georgetown alumnus Dinaw Mengestu’s (C’00) All Our Names during this year’s Marino Workshop.

The Marino Workshop, funded by alumnus Frederick Marino (SLL’68) and his family, allows students to discuss an assigned summer reading and to reflect on the philosophical, historical, cultural, religious or political issues raised in the novel.

“The most important reason why you’re here is because we’re … committed to this idea that there’s something more about our education than just an accumulation of facts and numbers,” Mengestu said to the Class of 2018 during his Aug. 25 lecture in McDonough Arena. “That there’s something more important to our humanity …  Our books and stories are some of the only ways we can understand some of those facts.”

All Our Names explores identity, love, war and freedom by paralleling the lives of two young men who come of age during revolution in 1970s East Africa.

Mengestu, who is also the Lannan Foundation Chair of Poetics at Georgetown, talked to students and signed books before they broke into multiple sessions taught by more than 70 faculty and staff volunteers.

Volunteer mentor Anne O’Neil-Henry, assistant professor of French, said she participated in the workshop to get acquainted with incoming first-years and to meet fellow faculty and staff outside her department.

“I'm so glad that I [participated]. I was impressed by Dinaw Mengestu's excellent talk, especially how he wove together elements of his own personal experience at Georgetown, his experience as a journalist in Africa and his book,” she said. “No doubt this led to an exciting and energetic discussion.”