By Chantel Vargas
The 11th annual One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern event was on Nov. 1. This year’s chosen book is Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer’s “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America.”
The event began with introductions from Dr. Emerson Case and President of CSU Bakersfield, Horace Mitchell.
Previous OBOBOK books include “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” “The Other Wes More,” “The House on Mango Street,” “The Big Thirst,” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” “Enrique’s Journey” and “The Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Living.”
Shaefer and Edin shared the hidden stories of people from across the country who have suffered from sexual assault, poverty and much more. Many of these people deal with hunger, which unfortunately can lead to suicide.
Tabatha was a young girl in their story who received a message from her teacher on Facebook. The teacher offered her food but only if she had sex with him in return. Tabatha shared how her brother committed suicide. Her brother jumped off of a cliff because he could no longer bear the hunger and the poverty.
Several people told the authors that Americans would not be able to read the story, and that they wouldn’t buy the book because it was too intense. Migrant Community Relations Liaison, Ismael Guzman Briseño, argued otherwise.
“We always look for anything that is extra for our students. Whenever there is something in the community regarding education, reading or writing we target those events especially because they’re free and it’s local. It’s an opportunity for students to learn about what’s going on,” said Briseño.
Each year, Briseño makes the opportunity a field trip so migrant students attend the OBOBOK event. Every Wednesday, teachers come together in the migrant office from 4-7 p.m. and learn about the book and the author so that the students are aware. Several of his migrant students ranging from 4th to 8th grade asked questions in front of the entire audience.
The event ended with questions from the audience.
“How did you both manage to stay strong while writing the book? How did you manage to hear these stories that I know are personal and heartbreaking?” asked Darrel Bellis, an English teacher at Wasco High School.
Shaefer responded, “It was a matter of connections. It’s the opportunity to affect and be affected. The human connection is important to me and important to them. We need them here to talk about getting through incredible challenges and heartbreak.”