This year, 31 Cornell alumni classes are inviting their members to take part in what has become an annual rite of passage for incoming students, the Cornell New Student Reading Project.
Begun by Provost Biddy Martin in 2001, the New Student Reading Project was developed as a way to encourage intellectual and social rapport among incoming freshmen. Since its inception, the project's popularity has skyrocketed, and the chosen books have become the subject of required assignments and events for more than 3,000 freshmen and transfer students. Furthermore, the books have formed the inspiration for local high school essay contests and have become the highlight of Ithaca community forums and events. New this year 5000 students from 67 high schools in 18 New York State Counties and New York City will read Chinua Achebe's masterful novel Things Fall Apart as part of a statewide pilot program coordinated through Cornell Cooperative Extension and the New Student Reading Project at Cornell.
During orientation week, new students participate in a community-wide discussion panel and small group sessions facilitated by faculty members and current students. If you can't make the trip back to Ithaca for an intimate chat or debate, don't worry! Cornell's CyberTower offers an online video forum and study room, so that alumni, parents, and friends can participate from anywhere in the world.
Copies of the Cornell University edition of Things Fall Apart are available at your local library or in bookstores. To see if your class is participating, contact your class officers via your class Web site.
Recipe for Yam Fufu (Foo-Foo) Balls
Place 2 lb of yams in cold unsalted water. Boil the water and cook yams for about 25 minutes or until the yams are soft. Remove the yams, cool, peel and mash with 1/4 tsp black pepper and 1 tsp of butter. Place in a food processor to remove lumps but do not puree. Beat by hand with a spoon or wire whisk until completely smooth. The FuFu should have a sticky, slightly resilient consistency. Shape into balls and serve warm.
Adapted from Oxfam