Heidi W. DurrowHeidi W. Durrow

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PCC Reads Extravaganza!

For the first time Portland Community College did a campus-wide PCC Reads and they chose The Girl Who Fell From the Sky. I was honored, but also incredibly thrilled. I took classes at PCC as a high school student when I thought I wanted to graduate early. And my mom is a long-time PCC employee. I couldn't have asked for a more energizing or meaningful visit. I met with students, faculty and staff on four campuses over breakfast, over snacks, in panel discussions, readings, and a kick-a** live radio show of sorts. The book was taught in dozens of classes including English as a Second Language classes, reading comprehension, writing composition, and social justice courses. The response from the students was overwhelming. After a moving panel discussion about the Mixed experience at Southeast Center, a group of students, faculty and staff presented me with the most amazing, gorgeous piece of art--a quilt that they had made in response to the book. Can you believe it? I just can't get over how amazing this is. (Thank you Karen Engstrom for bringing it all together!) Then it was off to Rock Creek where I did a reading and then met with a smaller group over some nibblies to talk about the book. The next day is a little bit of a blur because it was so emotional. My mom was in the audience as were a bunch of folks I hadn't seen in years--it felt like This is Your Life. I had done a reading at Cascade last year while on the hardcover tour so they asked me to talk about my educational and publishing journey. I choked up a couple of times as I talked -- my mom was beaming up at me -- the journey (which at times I would have called depression and despair) really was worth it! Then a short reception to talk with folks some more where I met some lovely people who I think will be new friends.

After an hour or so it was off to Sylvania campus where Dave Stout and crew had created a fantastic live stage show essentially. I felt like Oprah as I invited a few groups of students to the stage to ask questions of me about my experiences and the book. An incredibly talented young woman named Miyabi Inoue originally from Japan presented me with the most amazing watercolor that she was inspired to create in response to my book. Again, I was floored. Such beautiful art in response to my book? I couldn't have asked for more.

And wow, I can't stop thinking about the powerful staged reading of a couple of passages from the book. Thank you to the Illumination Project performers and their director Jeannie.  After the show, I signed some books, checked out the wonderful community photo project that the students had done.  And then met with a group of students over nibblies in the library.  I loved their questions and energy. 

I have to say that my time at PCC was nothing less than transformative.  Thank you for two amazing days.


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