Warren St. John will be the latest guest Wednesday for an event thats becoming one of Durangos biggest annual draws.
St. John is the author of Outcasts United: An American Town, A Refugee Team, and One Womans Quest to Make a Difference, which is this years selection for the Fort Lewis College Common Reading Experience. The selected book is assigned to classes campus-wide each year and is often chosen by many local book clubs and avid readers as well.
As such, visits by the selected authors, including Sonia Nazario (Enriques Journey in 2010), David Baron (The Beast in the Garden in 2009) and Greg Mortenson (Three Cups of Tea in 2008, later controversy notwithstanding), are communitywide events with quite a buzz.
St. John will lead two student discussion groups from 2 to 3 p.m. and 4 to 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Ballantine Media Center. Hell hold a free public book signing and lecture at 7 p.m. in the Community Concert Hall.
Outcasts United tells the true story of a soccer team in Clarkston, Ga. The small town became the home for refugees from war-torn areas of Liberia, Congo, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. Luma Mufleh, a Jordanian woman, organized a youth soccer team to keep the refugee boys off the streets and the team assumed the name Fugees.
Adding to the intrigue of the story is how the boys endeared themselves to the population in a small Southern town where outsiders arent usually so welcome.
Shortly after the team formed, the towns mayor even decreed that the towns fields be used only for American sports and attempted to ban soccer.
It quickly becomes obvious that theres much more than soccer at stake for these children, many of whom witnessed the murders of their families and have no home country to go back to someday.
St. John is a former New York Times reporter who also has written for Wired, Slate and The New Yorker. He also is the author of the 2004 book Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Journey into the Heart of Fan Mania.