During her presentation, Dumas talked about the life experiences that led her to write certain moments of her life into a memoir. She said choosing which parts of her history to include wasn't the difficult part. Instead, Dumas emphasized that it’s not the big events in life people remember — it’s the little ones.
“Every time I would write a story, it was like buying candy from a machine — … another one would pop up,” Dumas said. “Eventually, there came a point where I just knew I was done.”
The Freshman Common Reading and Writing Experience serves as the first academic assignment for incoming freshmen at Ball State. Each year, students and faculty have the opportunity to select a book for incoming freshman to read before coming to Ball State, and to compliment the prerequisite reading, the university’s Freshmen Connections chair, Melinda Messineo, arranges for the author to speak in the Fall semester.
“It’s always such a unique experience for students to see and hear the voice behind the words,” Messineo said. “It’s such a pleasure to have [Dumas] with us at Ball State, and I know we’re all looking forward to learning from what she has to teach us.”
Messineo added that students, especially freshmen, could benefit from the stories of transition which Dumas writes about.
“You might not have come from another country, but taking the step away from home and coming to college can be a journey in itself,” Messineo said.
Dumas’s book focuses on being Iranian, but there was a universal truth she wanted to get across to her readers, saying that "our commonalities outweigh our differences.”
She said everyone should introduce themselves to at least one new person each day, and Dumas expressed hope that her book will encourage students to read and learn about people and cultures different from their own.
“College is a time to branch out and meet new people,” Dumas said. “I believe everyone has a story to tell. ... Every person’s story counts."
During her presentation, Dumas also wanted to emphasize that people shouldn’t avoid asking questions out of fear of being politically incorrect. However, she said it is important to be mindful of why you’re asking the question.
“There is nothing wrong with being curious and wondering,” Dumas said. “Just ask yourself, ‘Am I saying this to be mean?’”
Leaving students with intended words of wisdom and guidance, Dumas had one final word of advice.
“Don’t be afraid of who you are, and don’t be afraid of where life may take you. You have a journey ahead of you — experience the best of life while you can,” Dumas said.