UNCP5514: Growing Up Ethnic in America

In this seminar students will read narratives by primarily AHANA writers that navigate the complex terrain of race and ethnicity in America. The novels and stories will depict a variety of experiences but suggest that what constitutes an American identity is far from settled. Ethnic difference has a profound effect on personal and social understandings of what it means to be an American. As we discuss the literature, students will be expected to share their own personal narratives of growing up – stories of race, ethnicity, class, gender, faith, and nationality – and what it means to be “ethnic” in America. Some of the writers we will read include: Mat Johnson, Amy Tan, Louise Erdrich, Chang Rae-Lee, Sherman Alexie, Sandra Cisneros, Junot Diaz, Edwidge Danticat, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Reflecting on Your Past – Personal Histories

  • Who are you?
  • What have you made of your BC Education?
  • What has your BC education made of you?
  • Why Capstone?
  • The Student Centered Classroom & Capstone Expectations.
  • Writing Assignment: Reflecting on Your Past.
  • Peak Experience Exercise

Relationships and Family

  • Who are the important people in your life?
  • How have your family and its traditions shaped who you are today?
  • What lessons have you learned from your close relationships?
  • Reading
    • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
    • A Letter to My Son – TaNehisi Coates
    • The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears – Dinaw Mengestu

Citizenship, Country, City and Community

  • What does it mean to be a good citizen?
  • How can I make a difference in the world? In my city/community?
  • How have I come to understand my role in the world?
  • Reading
    • Black Bodies in Motion and in Pain – Edwidge Danticat
    • Proving My Blackness – Mat Johnson
    • The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri

Faith, Spirituality and the Search for Meaning

  • Many spiritual quests involve a journey. What is your spiritual journey?
  • How will you live a life that is fulfilling and purposeful?
  • How do you understand faith? Religion?
  • For what/whom are you grateful? How do you express your gratitude or appreciation?
  • Reading:
    • Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng
    • The Red Convertible – Louise Erdrich
    • Daisy – Chang Rae Lee
    • This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona – Sherman Alexie
  • Writing: Envisioning Your Future
  • Ten Years Out Exercise

Envisioning the Future: Career, Work and Living a Fulfilled Life

  • How will you carry-out the lifelong commitments you have begun to envision?
  • What are the unique gifts you can offer the world?
  • What are your hopes and fears?
  • What is your dream for your future?
  • Reading:
    • The Summoned Self – David Brooks
    • Listening to Life – Palmer Parker
    • A Pocket Guide to Jesuit Education
    • The Rules of the Game – Amy Tan
  • Video: The Man in the Red Bandana
  • Writing Assignment: Envisioning Your Future