World War II refugee to speak at Ball State

Freshmen program brings Agate Nesaule to Emens stage

Agate Nesaule spent her childhood in Latvia until the events of World War II forced her family to flee the country. Suddenly refugees, they were eventually captured by German and Russian soldiers, and witnessed the atrocities of war.

After the war, the family settled in Indianapolis, and Nesaule went on to earn her Ph. D. at Indiana University and is a retired professor of women's studies at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Nesaule, author of this year's Freshman Connections book, "A Woman in Amber: Healing the Trauma of War and Exile," will speak of her experiences during World War II in a talk titled, "The Power of Putting it into Words: the Case of a Woman in Amber."

Nesaule's book was winner of the American Book Award in 1996 and has been translated into Latvian, Chinese, German, Russian, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish.

All of campus is invited to come to Emens Auditorium Wednesday, Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m. to hear her stories unfold onstage.

There will be a question and answer session afterwards.

"Very rarely do we have this great opportunity to meet an author and hear her perspective," said Melinda Messineo, assistant professor of sociology. "I hope it will make the books the freshmen are reading more real and encourage them to think of the real life of the person behind other books they read."

Paul Ranieri, interim associate dean of the English department, also said he hopes Nesaule's talk will encourage much student participation.

"It's important for students to engage in intellectual conversations," he said. "Authors are real people, and this talk will bring that distant experience of reading a book closer to them. We hope they transfer that feeling of engaging (in conversation) over to other classes as well."

"Her story has a lot of elements that are applicable to real life," said Robin Rufatto, professor of mathematics.

Rufatto said he believes the book and Nesaule's speech will make students think about how they personally would handle a situation over which they have no control.

"I hope students take advantage of this opportunity," Rufatto said.


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