San Juan College’s One Book, One Community project has selected Code Talker: the First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII, as the book of choice for 2012.
This is the result of selections submitted by both San Juan College and the community. Written by Judith Avila and Chester Nez, the book focuses on Nez’s memoirs about his life on the reservation, his experiences in boarding schools, his adventures in the military and life afterward. Nez is the last living of the original 29 Code Talkers.
“We are excited to share this book with the community,” says Traci Halesvass, One Book Committee director and SJC assistant professor of English. “Code Talker features an important aspect of our culture and the Native American soldiers who played such an integral role in protecting our freedom. Embracing their stories honors their lives and our history.”
The book will also be a part of the New Mexico Centennial Celebration. Other events will include recognition of the new Veteran’s Center, as well as talks and meetings with other Code Talkers in the area.
Avila grew up in New York and New Hampshire before making her way to New Mexico, where she now calls home. She has worked as a social worker, an artist, an air traffic controller and a computer consultant before discovering writing. Avila was writing fiction when she met Nez, and felt it was important that his story be told.
Nez modestly agreed to share his experience, as Avila states in the book’s prologue: “I’m no hero,” Chester Nez chuckles, “I just wanted to serve my country.” The prologue continues: “In the telling of his story, Chester’s desire is simple: he hopes that those readers who are not Native American will appreciate and understand something outside their own experience, and that those who are Native American will find a source of pride in their heritage.”
One Book, One Community originated in 2010 as Halesvass’s two-year Distinguished Teaching Chair project. It is based on the philosophy that a community that opens a book together closes it in greater harmony. It was developed to build a sense of community while promoting literacy. One Book, One Community is intended to promote campus and community dialogue through curriculum projects, discussions and a presentation by the author(s).
One Book One Community is moving from a campus project to a community wide project. It continues, thanks to funding provided by a private donor through the San Juan College Foundation.
For further information on One Book One Community email email@example.com or contact Traci Halesvass at 566-3950.