“How Does It Feel To Be A Problem?” author due to visit campus

Moustafa Bayoumi, author of this year’s first year’s first year programs book connection selection, How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?”, will be visiting NKU on Nov. 20th.

The author will have two free events on campus at 1:45 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., with a book signing after the first event.

In “How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?”, Moustafa Bayoumi dives deep into the lives of seven Arab Americans and their experiences after the towers crumbled that infamous morning.

Crafting his book to share experiences beyond the life of one individual, Bayoumi gives descriptive insight to his readers about the highly unrecognized shadow the Arab community lives under.

Starting his book through the eyes of 19-year-old Rasha, a girl who along with family is thrown in prison for almost three months under immigration charges as suspected terrorists, shares the emotional battle they were forced to face. From there, new chapters invite new individuals such as Sami, Yasmin, Akram, Lina, Omar, and Rami where Bayoumi shows us the struggles they have faced in a country that had a new “problem” with the Arabic community.

“The problem wasn’t the Arab American population, it’s the nation that has a problem, not the individuals,” said John Alberti, director of graduate studies and cinema studies, about the ironic title of this year’s book.

The title of the book stems back to “The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B Du Bois, who is quoted in the epigraph at the beginning.

A year of planning was put into creating the event.

“We spend a whole year choosing the book, once the book is chosen we work on bringing the author to campus,” said Tracy Hart, faculty member of first year programs. ““This is a big event out of our office.”

Aiming for diversity and an eye opening story, the Book Committee allows a year to plan to ensure the best learning experience is available for first year students.

The Book Committee’s project is similar to other larger college and universities across the nation, which sparked NKU’s interest in 2000 to follow suit.

“We wanted to create an academic community for students because we felt a lot of students didn’t have a good connection to books,” Alberti said.

The first book for NKU’s program was “The Color of Water” by James McBride. The turnout was “overwhelming” for the small committee at the time who held the event in Grieves Concert Hall.

“We violated fire code…students were everywhere, even sitting on the stage,” said Alberti.

Since then the enthusiasm has not dwindled. The book committee has gotten larger and the goal to bring first year students together through the “common read” are still at work.

“The Saudi Arabian population is large at NKU,” said Hart. “We wanted to raise awareness among freshman about things they may not have thought about before.”

Bayoumi’s book lends a louder voice to that population The variety of voices and stories he shares and connects through the 290 pages express the experiences of the seven individuals close in age to college students.

“These are voices you almost never hear on the news,” said Alberti, “when you hear these voices, you can’t dismiss them.”

Moustafa Bayoumi will be at NKU Thursday November 20 where two lectures will be available for students and the community at 1:45 p.m. and 7 p.m. In addition there will be a book signing in the book store after the 1:45 session.

“I hope students look at the world in a different way than they did before,” shared Alberti about his hopes for the event. “I want them to ask more questions about the world around them.”