Kaysea Suzana | Assistant Entertainment Director
After immigrating to the U.S. from China as a teenager, author Anna Qu learned how to grow and overcome the trauma she suffered as a child laborer.
Qu presented her latest book, “Made in China,” in the Student Academic Success Center’s lecture hall on June 30.
The book is part of FIU’s 15-year-old Common Reading Program as required material for the class of 2027, designed to invite discussion and critical thinking in first-year students.
The event began at 11:45 a.m. with Qu presenting her book after a brief introduction, and finishing with a book signing at 2:30 p.m.
Valerie Morgan, senior Director of the Office of Academic Support Initiatives and Services; the administrators for Common Reading, commented on the program’s impact on student life.
“Each year we have a new book to help with class identity,” Morgan said.
The Common Reading program encourages students to write essays considering the themes and motifs of each book, which can even earn prize money in contests.
The Common Reading events engage students in other ways, as the essays submitted by them when reviewing the books often get contested with the winner receiving prize money.
“We’ve selected Qu with the idea that students might recognize similarities and differences [with her], even if they differ from her in race, immigration [status] and sex,” Morgan said.
When asked by a student on how to heal from past abuses, Qu answered earnestly.
“You have to be kind to yourself. You have to learn how to find joy in things. Personally, I love to write. I love painting and gardening, and some people might not. But it helps me. Find what you enjoy,” Qu responded.
Attendee and freshman Norma Lemus spoke about her own experiences in interacting with other cultures.
“Meeting new people helps new students. Coming to events like these showcases our differences– and our similarities. It’s these differences and similarities that connect us,” Lemus explained.
In collaboration with the Panther Peer Mentor Collective, T-shirts were given out along with spare copies of the book.
Representative of Common Reading and assistant director of academic support services, Giovanna Tello, mentioned the importance of mental health and Qu’s role in representation.
“Many students might not understand or relate to Ana, but they learn from her that despite life’s hurdles and challenges, you can come out at the other end of the tunnel. You too can succeed!” Tello said.
After the event, Qu spoke to PantherNOW regarding her views on literature and its application to students.
“For me literature was an escape from a very young age. And then, I recognized that writing became a form of expression, and resistance for me. I asked myself how I process challenges in life, how can I get through this?” asked Qu.
Qu emphasized a final message of resilience for FIU students.
“Seek help if you need it, and never, ever give up,” said Qu.