Blackwell Library

New Student Reader - Information for Students

Journey From the Land of No | For Students | For Faculty/Staff Facilitators | For The Community


Information For Students

Timeline    Purpose of the NSR     Discussion Questions     Art/Essay Contest Info


Journey from the Land of No




Thursday, August 27th

5:30 - 6:30 PM  Dinner for Essay & Art contest winners and their families with the President and other University Officials.  Held in the Worchester Room of the Commons.

7:00 - 8:00 PM   Author, Roya Hakakian speaks to the Community.  Held in the Great Hall and Social Room, Holloway Hall.


Friday, August 28th

9:00 - 10:00 AM  Convocation.  Held in Red Square.

10:15 - 11:15 AM  Small group discussions led by Faculty & Staff.  Held in various classrooms on the SU campus.

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM  Academic Open Houses. 
Held in respective Academic Schools.

12:30 - 1:30 PM  Lunch on lawn (New Students & Faculty) and Campus book signing by Author, Roya Hakakian.  Held on the lawn of Devilbiss Mall.

1:00 - 2:00 PM  New Student Reader book signing by Author, Roya Hakakian.  Held on the lawn of Devilbiss Mall.


 Purpose of the New Student Reader Program

The purpose of the New Student Reader Program is to orient new students to our academic community at Salisbury University by having a common reading experience with fellow classmates, faculty, staff, and upper-class students who serve as orientation team peer leaders. 

The goal of the New Student Reader Program is to engage students in discussions, projects, curricular and co-curricular opportunities generated by a common reading experience.

Fall Convocation is a ceremony that is the formal start of the academic year.  The experiences in the New Student Reader Program are also intended to foster a connection between the Fall Convocation speakers and events in the formal ceremony with the discussions and activities outside the ceremony. 

Goals and Objectives:

  • To introduce new students to the mind shift that must occur from high school to college.
  • To introduce new students to academic life at Salisbury University.
  • To emphasize the idea that new students must take responsibility for their own learning and long term academic assignments.
  • To stimulate discussion, debate, and critical thinking around a common book’s theme.
  • To enhance a sense of community between students, faculty, and staff.
  • To provide a common intellectual experience for incoming students.


Discussion Questions

Roya Hakakian’s Journey from the Land of No:
A Girlhood in Revolutionary Iran

1. To what does the title, Journey from the Land of No, refer? Does  the title aptly describe Hakakian’s journey?


2. Hakakian has multiple identities that simultaneously work together and conflict with one another.  She is a woman in a country where the rights and freedoms of women are dissipating; she is a daughter, a Jew, an Iranian, a writer.  Can you relate to any of the multiple identities characterized in Hakakian’s memoir? In what ways has your identity and life been constructed by your many identities? 


3. Much of Roya’s girlhood is spent in the company of women who define and shape her future. She writes: “The women before us were Grandmother, Aunt Zarrin, and Mother, and where were they now? At motherhood. . . .They served the family freshly cooked meals while they stayed in the kitchen and ate yesterday’s leftovers. After meals, the men slipped in to their pajamas and napped. The women cleared plates and swept around bodies like nurses in an infirmary tending to comatose patients. Pain was their closest companion… “ (74 -75). In what ways did Roya conform to and or defy this destiny? How did her environment, her family, and her goals compete with the traditional roles of women?


4. Roya describes herself as having a love affair with the Revolution. To what extent is she a reliable narrator as she describes this love affair? Are there any points in the text where she is not believable? Why or why not?


5. When Roya’s  father reacts to the swastika and anti-Semitic writing outside of their home (134),  Roya turns to writing.  In what ways does writing become a vehicle for expression of Roya’s story, perspective, and historical context of Pre and Post Revolutionary Iran?  Is it an effective vehicle? How so?


6. In what ways does Hakakian’s memoir, her characterization of living in a Muslim land, challenge and complicate your preconceived ideas about the Muslim world?


7. How does Hakakian’s memoir reflect how America is perceived by the Muslim world?


Journey from the Land of No Essay and Art Contest

Deadline:  August 7th, 2009

Journey from the Land of No by Roya Hakakian

Essay and Art Contest


Attention incoming students to Salisbury University! Here’s your chance to win a $300 gift certificate to the Salisbury University Book Store. You can use the gift certificate for anything the book store sells, including all those textbooks you’ll have to buy. All you have to do is submit the winning essay or the winning art project related to the New Student Reader, Journey from the Land of No.


All entries for the essay and art contests must be mailed to:

            Salisbury University

Guerrieri University Center, Attention: Lawanda Dockins-Gordy, Director

1101 Camden Avenue

Salisbury, MD 21801


and postmarked no later than August 7, 2009. Winners will be notified the week of August 17th. Entries should include a cover letter with contact information. In addition, students submitting art projects should include in their cover letter the name of their project and an artist’s statement or brief description of the intended meaning of the project.


Guidelines for Essay on Journey from the Land of No by Roya Hakakian


Write an essay of 500-750 words, which should demonstrate your own serious reflection on the book. You have two choices. First, you can choose one of the four discussion questions included with the book. Don’t feel as if you have to cover every question in it is entirety; if you want to narrow the scope of your essay so that you write about one part of a question, that’s fine. Your other choice of topic is to write an argument in which you compare your own life journey to that of Roya Hakakian, if you think there is a comparison worth making.


In addition to your cover letter, you should attach a cover page to your essay. The cover page should include your name, the title of the essay, the date of submission, your email address, and your cell phone number (if you have one). Be sure to create your own title for the essay; the book’s title is not an acceptable title for the essay.


This essay will be judged on its effectiveness as an argument, its creativity and originality, and its overall readability. It should be focused, well-reasoned, and written clearly, with correct grammar and spelling. If you quote or paraphrase passages from the book, you should include a parenthetical citation (following MLA style). Lastly, the essay should be typed, double-spaced, stapled, and submitted by the deadline to the address above. Please note that the winning essay will be published on Salisbury University’s website; therefore, in the first few days of the semester, the winner of the essay contest must meet with Dr. Nicole Munday, director of the University Writing Center, to discuss any necessary revisions.


Guidelines for Art on Journey from the Land of No by Roya Hakakian


The art work must reflect the meaning of the author and must be your original work. Please take the opportunity in the cover letter to address this for the judges. The art will be judged based on the following elements of artistic expression:

  1. Creativity, newness, and originality of the design.
  2. Visual balance of the project.
  3. Clarity of the theme to the viewer. The artist’s statement will be considered in making this judgment.
  4. Expression of emotion and the extent to which the project can be expected to evoke an emotional response in the viewer.
  5. Finish or completion of the project and attention to quality.
  6. Overall impression. The effect of the project as a whole, often based on the first glimpse of the finished piece will be judged. Without regard to the other criterion, does it stand on its own as a good and complete work of art?


2008-2009 Book - Into the Wild   *   2007-2008 Book - The Glass Castle
2006 - 2007 Book - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
2005-2006  Book - Funny in Farsi