Summer typically consists of trips to the beach, spending time with friends or relaxing vacations, but for incoming first-year students, summer break included diving into a Pulitzer Prize nominated book. First-year students and scholars taking LEAD 101 or introductory Humanities courses were required to read Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by renowned author, Elizabeth Rush.
On Thursday, October 3, SUNY Maritime College held the annual Community Read welcoming Rush to speak with students about her work and efforts to document the effects of climate change. Rising explores the impending danger of rising sea levels and shares first-hand stories from those who have experienced flooding in their own communities.
At the event, Rush focused on a chapter that examines the disastrous impact of Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island. Students listened as she read Nicole Monalto’s compelling testimony from the chapter, “On Storms.” Rush explained that Nicole’s story built the foundation of her book; she realized the testimony held power and decided to utilize her book as a platform to give a voice to those most vulnerable to rising sea levels. Upon delving into her research and sharing her personal experiences, she left students with one final thought, “It sounds deceptively simple, and maybe it is, but when the conversation is long and dominated by a select few, listening can be a surprisingly potent act upending historic power and balances.” Rush inspired students to begin conversing about climate change as their stories may influence change, “Perhaps together, we can make the ever more popular protest chant come true, ‘The seas are rising and so are we’.”
The Community Read committee selected Rising because it is a multifaceted story that touches upon diversity, growing environmental concerns, and emphasizes the impact rising sea level has on our own communities in New York City. Bringing the author to campus allowed students to connect with the narratives and encouraged them to consider how this important topic will affect their future.