First-Year Reading

Each year, the first-year class dean asks students to read a common text. The first-year reading connects you to the Holy Cross community through a shared reading experience, welcoming you to a culture that values the thoughtful discussion of ideas.

In preparation for beginning your education at Holy Cross, Rob Bellin, Class Dean for the Class of 2028, has selected World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, as the first-year class reading.  We are excited that the author has recently agreed to visit Holy Cross this fall to present her reflections about World of Wonders to students in the Class of 2028!

Reading a physical copy or listening to an audiobook version of World of Wonders are equally great options for experiencing the author’s meaningful insights and ideas, although the print version includes beautiful illustrations that also add to the reading experience.

Your first assignment as a Holy Cross student will be to write a brief reflection essay (about 300-350 words) in which you respond to one (or more) of the questions below, which are based on a range of prompts related to this book considered by book clubs and reading groups around the world. You should email your essay to your academic advisor and your Montserrat professor (both of whom you will find out over the summer) by August 21st. 

  • The book speaks to the beauty and surprise of the natural world, along with the responsibility we hold toward it; the author emphasizes the dangers facing nature as she wrestles with humanity’s impact on it. In what ways do you connect with her message?
  • Related to the essay “The Potoo”, when would you say is a time that you feel most “seen,” for who you are? When you need to “slow down,” or “be still,” what do you find helps you? What benefit can come from doing less, being still, looking inward, or taking a step back?
  • In the book, the author writes about her identity as an Asian American woman —often seen as an outsider by those around her and feeling the pull to ‘blend’ in with her white classmates and friends.  Have you had experiences in your life where you have felt like an outsider?  How have you responded to these experiences?
  • In the essay “Monsoon”, the author ventures out during the monsoon season in India to enjoy a special treat with her grandmother.  What memories do you associate with special people in your life that were spent outside in nature?  What smells, sights, tastes and sensations can you recall from that time?