Winthrop University: “The Girl with Seven Names” Selected Again as Winthrop’s Common Book
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“The Girl with Seven Names” Selected Again as Winthrop’s Common Book

June 01, 2021

HIGHLIGHTS

  • An international bestseller, the book portrays a 17-year-old girl’s harrowing journey escaping one of the most secretive regimes in the world during the height of North Korea’s famine in the 1990s. 
  • Incoming Winthrop freshmen and transfer students will receive the book during the summer. 

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Winthrop University’s Common Book, “The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story” by Hyeonseo Lee, was a popular choice last year and has been chosen again as the 2021-22 Common Book selection.

An international bestseller, the book portrays a 17-year-old girl’s harrowing journey escaping one of the most secretive regimes in the world during the height of North Korea’s famine in the 1990s. 

Lee’s riveting and inspiring account of her 10-year struggle to avoid capture and reunite with her family reveals much about the resilience of the human spirit. The book also depicts a young, vulnerable immigrant teenager’s coming of age in a moving and complex account of her journey to discover who she is and what she most values and cherishes.

A graduate from the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Lee has become a regular speaker on the international stage, addressing the topic of human rights and raising awareness about the plight of North Koreans. She is an advocate for fellow refugees, and her TED talk has been viewed nearly 4 million times. She is married to her American husband, Brian Gleason, and currently lives in South Korea.

Incoming Winthrop freshmen and transfer students will receive the book during the summer. 

“Students will use the book in several settings: they will discuss it in ACAD 101: Introduction to the Academy; engage in programming and conversations about its themes in their residence halls; and delve into the overarching concepts and ideas in more depth when they take HMXP 102: The Human Experience course,” said Jamie Cooper, vice provost for student success and dean of University College.

First-year students are also encouraged to attend Common Book-related cultural events, which are open to Winthrop and the surrounding community, throughout the fall and spring semesters.

The topics of diversity, cultural awareness and global connectedness raised in the book remain as relevant as ever in society, and continue to be themes that are important to Winthrop’s mission and overall learning goals. Students will be afforded opportunities in the upcoming academic year to gather in person and discuss the book’s ideas and relate them to the world in which we live.

Cooper stated: “Having ‘The Girl with Seven Names’ on our campus for a second year will allow our students the opportunity to dig into the text in person and discuss the reading with their peers in the classroom and in other venues across the campus. We look forward to working together to unpack ideas from the reading and to share in the message of hope that Lee brings to her readers, especially during such a hope-filled time in our country with the decline of the pandemic.”

First begun in 2004, Winthrop’s Common Book Project is one of many programs designed to support student success during the transition to college life, and also supports the university’s goal of cultivating awareness and understanding of different perspectives.

For more information, contact Judy Longshaw, news and media services manager, at longshawj@winthrop.edu.

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Last Updated: 10/4/21