One Book Program

The One Book program engages our college community in a dialogue about a common text that addresses a current issue. Students, faculty and staff share the experience of reading a text and examining its effects upon our community. Faculty who incorporate the text into their curriculum receive copies for their students. Programming is provided throughout the year to continue the discussions that begin in the classrooms of various disciplines. The culminating event happens each spring semester when the college invites the author of the chosen text to visit, interact and speak with our student body. The One Book program promotes literacy in an innovative way and creates interest within a subject that students may be encouraged to pursue and advocate for in the future. The program invites analysis, promotes critical thinking, and encourages positive change.

One Book 2018-2019: The Years of Zero--Coming of Age Under the Khmer Rouge by Seng Ty

The Years of Zero book cover for One Book 2018-2019

One Book - The Years of Zero by Seng Ty
Thursday, April 25, 2019

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The Years of Zero—Coming of Age Under the Khmer Rouge
is a survivor’s account of the Cambodian genocide carried out by Pol Pot’s sadistic and terrifying Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s. It follows the author, Seng Ty, from the age of seven as he is plucked from his comfortable, middle-class home in a Phnom Penh suburb, marched along a blistering, black strip of highway into the jungle, and thrust headlong into the unspeakable barbarities of an agricultural labor camp. Seng’s mother was worked to death while his siblings succumbed to starvation. His oldest brother was brought back from France and tortured in the secret prison of Tuol Sleng. His family's only survivor and a mere child, Seng was forced to fend for himself, navigating the brainwashing campaigns and random depravities of the Khmer Rouge, determined to survive so he could bear witness to what happened in the camp. The Years of Zero guides the reader through the author’s long, desperate periods of harrowing darkness, each chapter a painting of cruelty, caprice, and courage. It follows Seng as he sneaks mice and other living food from the rice paddies where he labors, knowing that the penalty for such defiance is death. It tracks him as he tries to escape into the jungle, only to be dragged back to his camp and severely beaten. Through it all, Seng finds a way to remain whole both in body and in mind. He rallies past torture, betrayal, disease and despair, refusing at every juncture to surrender to the murderers who have stolen everything he had. As The Years of Zero concludes, the reader will have lived what Seng lived, risked what he risked, endured what he endured, and finally celebrate with him his unlikeliest of triumphs.

Praise for The Years of Zero

“I thought I knew Seng’s story after we met him in Cambodia to shoot a segment for 60 Minutes. His book has taught me how little I knew and how every detail adds to the miraculous nature of it all.”
– Bob Simon, correspondent on CBS 60 Minutes

“An inspiring story of my good friend Seng Ty who survived the Killing Fields. His story not only describes the terrible experience, but it has funny parts and humor as well.”
– Arn Chorn-Pond, The Flute Player & co-author of Never Fall Down

“I first met Seng Ty in 1981 while working as a psychologist in a Thai refugee camp. His hopeful demeanor and terrifying story of survival were so powerful that I felt compelled to help him get to America. Now, over thirty years later, this young man extrapolates the characteristics of his survival spirit that carried him from a middle class existence in Kampong Speu Province through the murder of his family and his trek to safety through dangerous Khmer Rouge territory. Seng Ty is one of my heroes—and The Years of Zero; Coming of Age under the Khmer Rouge is a must read for those of us seeking insights into the resilience of the human spirit. “
– Neil Boothby, Allan Rosenfield Professor of Public Health Columbia University

“As heartbreaking as it is uplifting, Seng Ty’s story about surviving the Khmer Rouge is unforgettable.”
– Patricia McCormick, author, Never Fall Down

“A remarkable tale of resiliency and hope, Seng Ty’s first book does more that shine a light on the atrocities of war in Cambodia. He offers a glimpse of humanity in its worst form and shows that the human spirit is not easily broken.”
– Matt Murphy, Lowell Sun


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