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A Cross Cultural Perspective: From the Old City of Palestine to Downtown Paterson

Paterson is a beautiful city, one full of history, cultural diversity and some of the sweetest people I have ever met. As a Palestinian American, I am so grateful to the City of Paterson for offering a safe space for me to be who I am. Walking down Main Street, I feel like I am back home, walking through the crowded bazaar to get to my grandmother’s house with the Muslim call to prayer echoing off the walls of the Old City.  Though Paterson has allowed my family and I to find a piece of home away from home, I want to embrace Paterson’s diversity and familiarize myself with the different cultures that live side by side. One Book One Paterson helps me do just that.  There is something so special about being able to discuss a great book, especially with people of different backgrounds. The perspective shift allows us to dive further into the literature and to discover layers we might have previously ignored. We learn more about ourselves and the world around us when we take a moment to lis…

Community Building Through Literacy

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has developed a program called the Big Read. The idea is based on a simple question: What if everyone in the city read the same book? No matter who you meet, you’d have something to talk about. We’d all have another layer to add to our shared experiences. It could be amazing to have us all rooting for the same protagonist, puzzling the same plots, enjoying a collective climax--literary climax. I suspect that everyone will come away from the book with slightly different interpretations since we each have our life experiences that will, undoubtable, filter the experience that we have while reading. Those filters are part of what makes reading the same book all the more exciting. Cities all over the nation are participating in the Big Read. Each city has adopted a name and a book. Our name is One Book One Paterson. Our slogan is Turning the page. Our book is A Lesson Before Dying by Earnest Gaines.
Participants in the  NEA’s Big Read choose one of…

Together We Read

Over the next several months the City of Paterson will be engaging
in an extremely exciting experience. Imagine...everyone in the city
reading and discussing the same book!!
That’s what ONE BOOK ONE PATERSON is all about! The National
Endowment for the Arts Big Read program has afforded Paterson the
opportunity to read Ernest J. Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying as a
collective body. The book is the late author’s eighth novel, published
in 1993. It is a fictional work based in part on the life of Willie Francis,
a black teenager sentenced to death twice in Louisiana. There are a
number of significant themes running throughout the novel including:
constructive lying, religion, cynicism and hope, women and femininity,
education and “The Inescapable Path.” All these themes set the tone
for awesome topics of discussion.
Spearheaded by a group of community stakeholders the citizens of
Paterson will partake in a variety of special events planned around
this wonderful novel. Some of the events i…