Armchair Travel to India, Israel, and Spain
Communications major Edina Oestreicher ’90 (CLAS) returned to campus last June as the executive director of UConn Hillel, the Center for Jewish Student Life. Starting a new job in the midst of a pandemic was challenging, she admits, but telecommuting has not kept her from collaborating with students, staff, and faculty on innovative programming that’s been keeping the Jewish community on campus engaged. And, she says, she’s had more time to read without the hour-plus commute from her home in Orange, Connecticut. Oestreicher usually has one fiction and one nonfiction book going simultaneously.
Illustration by Kyle Hilton
“The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri
I love Jhumpa Lahiri’s work and so enjoyed this story of the Indian immigrant experience in the U.S. Lahiri paints a vivid picture of the challenges and aspirations faced by immigrants and the accompanying, often burdensome, familial expectations. Her story of identity and family made me think what it must be like for people to live so far from home and continually yearn for their native culture. I highly recommend her short story collection “Interpreter of Maladies” too.
“Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth” by Noa Tishby
I am finding this book incredibly informative, entertaining, and even-handed in helping me understand Israel’s history and present. There are so many conflicting opinions about Israel and this writer presents the facts in a very balanced way. I am excited to share it with students on UConn Hillel’s upcoming birthright trip to Israel (a free 10-day trip to Israel for all Jews between the ages of 18 and 32).
“Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim’s Route into Spain” by Jack Hitt
One of my passions is hiking, and high on my bucket list is to trek the 500-plus-mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across Spain. I am planning on making the trek next summer and am excited to read Hitt’s travel memoir about the route’s history and the colorful pilgrims from around the globe that he meets along the way — including a one-legged hiker and a man who, according to the publisher’s blurb, “speaks no languages.”