For the 2020-21 academic year, students in First Year Experience (FYE) courses will read from a compilation of stories that have inspired millions of readers and listeners across the world.
The Cal Poly Pomona FYE Committee has selected The Moth Presents: Occasional Magic as this year’s Common Read. A nonprofit dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling, The Moth has presented thousands of stories told live and without notes at in-person events, educational workshops and on a popular podcast.
In Occasional Magic, nearly 50 storytellers share personal histories about the moments that changed their lives. Many of the stories recount the incredible, including being one of the first women in the world to go to the North Pole, growing up in Mississippi under Jim Crow and the love story behind a landmark Supreme Court marriage equality case.
Christy Orgeta, FYE committee member and the senior coordinator of residential education and leadership for University Housing Services, nominated the book after following the organization’s growth. She agrees with the Moth’s belief in the power of storytelling, and sees the Common Read as an opportunity to positively impact first-year students at a critical time: their first semester of college.
“By choosing a book that encourages people to tell their stories, I hope that our students will feel like they are welcomed to the CPP community,” she said. “The ability to communicate is crucial to a student as they move in, to, and through the CPP experience — storytelling shows up in self-reflection, class discussions, and eventually job interviews with future employers.”
In addition to their coursework around Occasional Magic, FYE students will have the chance to enter an essay contest where they can write about a moment when they spoke their truth, fought for what was right, or learned something new and changed their perspective. They can also take part in the Learn Through Discovery FYE Challenge by identifying a social justice issue presented in Occasional Magic and developing a creative and innovative solution to address that issue. More information about these opportunities is available on the FYE website.
Established in 2007, FYE’s community grows every year with new students, faculty and staff engaging with the Common Read and its programming. Each college has an FYE-designated course, where first-year freshmen and transfer students learn more about student life and opportunities for their major.
The Common Read is organized by the Office of Student Success and the First Year Experience Committee, comprised of faculty and staff across colleges and divisions.