West Virginia University at Parkersburg NEWS
March 23, 2010
Power of written word connects WVU Parkersburg student with Canadian author.
CONTACT: Dr. Martha McGovern, associate professor of reading/language arts, 304-424-8000, ext. 493.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The power of the written word has connected a West Virginia University at Parkersburg student with an award-winning Canadian author.
A book which explores the life of an Afghan family in the late 1990s prompted a West Virginia University at Parkersburg student to write a moving essay which has been shared with the author.
WVU Parkersburg students in paired English and Reading classes chose to read "The Breadwinner" and write a response paper. By Canadian author Deborah Ellis, the book explores the life of one Afghan family during the late 1990s when the Taliban were in control of Kabul.
Of the many strong essays written by the students, one in particular stood out. Dr. Martha McGovern, associate professor of reading/language arts, found the paper written by education major Candia Balderson of Parkersburg to be particularly thoughtful so she forwarded it to Ms. Ellis.
In a response letter to the professor, Ms. Ellis thanked her for sharing Ms. Balderson's essay with her.
"I was very moved, both by what she had to say and how she said it,” Ms. Ellis wrote.
“I think it’s the amazing courage of the Afghan people that comes through in the story," she continued in the letter. "I’ve been honored to be able to meet amazing folks like them around the world, and clearly your students show the same sort of courage.”
With the letter, Ms. Ellis sent two bookmarks, handmade by a woman in Afghanistan.
Ms. Balderson’s essay focused on a mysterious woman in the novel.
"The woman in the blackened window played a much bigger part in this story than just a woman in a house tossing things out a window," she wrote in her essay.
"Through my eyes, she represents communication between two people who seem to be worlds apart, even while they are in the same world of fear and worry. She also represents the confinement of the Afghan women and how they must feel like prisoners in their own homes, craving attention from the outside world. I also see her as somewhat of a guardian angel, watching over Parvana and the Afghan people who are praying for a better life, for peace."
Ms. Ellis is the winner of the Governor General's Award in Canada -- equivalent to the Carnegie Medal -- for her first novel "Looking For X." She has spent a great deal of time in Pakistan and in Afghan refugee camps, talking to women and documenting their lives under 20 years of war.