2022 community read introduces a courageous Afghan mother

Penn Yan Action Coalition
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Homeira Qaderi

The Penn Yan Action Coalition (PYAC) is proud to announce that our third annual community read will take place in June.  Our book selection this year is Dancing in the Mosque: An Afghan Mother’s Letter to Her Son, by Homeira Qaderi, which “challenges you to reconsider the meaning of motherhood, sacrifice, and survival,” according to its cover copy.  “Her story asks you to consider the lengths you would go to protect yourself, your family, and your dignity.”

As in past years, this community read will take place primarily online, and will consist of three Zoom sessions hosted by our partners from Penn Yan Public Library:

  • On June 10, we will facilitate a group discussion of the book’s events and themes.
  • On June 17, we are thrilled to welcome author Homeira Qaderi herself to discuss her life and work.
  • On June 24, representatives from Saint’s Place, a Rochester-based organization dedicated to “welcoming the stranger,” will present about their work supporting newly-arrived refugees, and will introduce us to a group of Afghan women to share their stories of leaving home and resettling in our area.

These Zoom sessions will take place at 3 p.m., and will be recorded and made available for later viewing.  PYAC invites you to register for these events now by visiting https://bit.ly/pyread22, or by contacting the library at 315-536-6114.

In addition to these exciting virtual events, there will be a book display and themed youth art show by local students at the library (214 Main St.), as well as a window display at Literacy Volunteers (117 East Elm St.), another community partner organization.  At both locations, the public can find a handout with reflection questions for the book and a list for further reading.  These installations are expected to be in place by mid-May.

Our inaugural community read, held in 2020, focused on The Line Becomes a River, and addressed humanitarian issues at our southern border.  Last year, our selection of Home Now illustrated the ways that an influx of Somali immigrants transformed a small Maine community in positive ways.  This year’s selection of Dancing in the Mosque reflects PYAC’s continuing concern over the refugee crisis stemming from the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan.

In late 2021, we examined the background of this crisis in a series of columns in The Chronicle-Express, which led up to a successful December bedding drive benefiting Saint’s Place.  Given the community’s outpouring of generosity during that event, we are hopeful that we will see an equal level of interest in this read.

Copies of Dancing in the Mosque will be available at a special discount from Longs' Cards & Books in Penn Yan.  A limited number is also available for request through Penn Yan Public Library.  PYAC can be reached for questions by email at pyactioncoalition@gmail.com.  We are excited to continue this learning journey with our curious, generous community.