AACRAO Book Club recap: The Devil's Highway prompts stories of immigration and understanding

November 18, 2019
  • Competencies
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Professional Development and Contributions to the Field
  • book club

by Eric Harris, Vice Chair of AACRAO's Latinx Caucus

One of the great things about a book club is that it can educate us and help facilitate learning and foster conversation among many people across broad swaths of geography. The connections that we build as AACRAO members when we collaborate in different ways and occasionally interact in meetings and at conventions can be a challenge to maintain.  My hope for this book club is that it will present for us opportunities to share our stories and our experiences as common members of the human race and help us gain compassion and understanding more broadly in our work as educational professionals. 

When I learned that AACRAO assigned the Latinx Caucus, of which I am a member, the task of soliciting suggestions for a favorite or topical book, The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea came immediately to mind.  This award-winning work of nonfiction is a powerful retelling of the tragic border crossing by 26 men from southern Mexico into the desert of Arizona. The story is one that does not easily fade from memory. While I personally found the book to be thoroughly engaging, I had no idea that one of my suggestions would be selected for the launch of AACRAO’s new book club!

The discussion was small but personal, with the participant divulging stories of their family’s own history of immigration, and how it helped them empathize with the situation. In the end, the goal of the book club was to foster deeper mutual understanding for members and their experiences, which was accomplished in the open environment that was fostered. 

I very much appreciate the opportunity to participate in this book club and I look forward to joining in on future discussions.  I hope that many more members across AACRAO will join in on the next selection! Keep reading!