A drop-in book club to cure our community

At a commuter college like UAA, students often feel that they need to be part of something to build community. One way students can fulfill this need is by going to the Care Team Book Club.

Guests of the Care Team Book Club. Photo credit: Lisa Terwilliger.
Guests of the Care Team Book Club. Photo credit: Lisa Terwilliger.

“It’s like adult story time,” Care Team coordinator Lisa Terwilliger said.

The Care Team Book Club meets every Monday at 12:30 p.m. in the first level of the Rasmuson Hall. Terwilliger leads the reading and discussion, and invites everyone to listen while enjoying tea and food.

“I started it [nearly two years ago] because a lot of the students who were coming to me or were referred to me early on… were lonely, and they were wanting to get connected on campus. So I tried to get them involved in clubs on campus… I couldn’t get the students into the clubs that they wanted because of logistics, and they didn’t want to go alone,” Terwilliger said.

As she tried to help the students, she thought of her own struggles.

“About the time I was trying to help students, I was going through a transition in my life where I wanted to make friends. How I make friends is through book clubs,” Terwilliger said.

She started a book club through the Care Team. Her goal, which is shared by the rest of the team, is to create a “connected and caring community.”

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“If we had a caring, connecting community, people wouldn’t feel depressed or isolated or alone or feel like hurting themselves or hurting anyone else,” Terwilliger said.

The Care Team Book Club uses tea sets that Lisa Terwilliger collected. Photo credit: Lisa Terwilliger.
The Care Team Book Club uses tea sets that Lisa Terwilliger collected. Photo credit: Lisa Terwilliger.
Micheal Rosebeary dressed up as the Mad Hatter to attend the Care Team Book Club around Halloween. Photo credit: Lisa Terwilliger.
Micheal Rosebeary dressed up as the Mad Hatter to attend the Care Team Book Club around Halloween. Photo credit: Lisa Terwilliger.

The book club is currently reading two books called “The Year of the Hare” by Arto Paasilinna and “One-Minute Mindfulness: 50 Ways to Find Peace, Clarity, and New Possibilities in a Stressed-out World” by Donald Altman.

“It’s a drop-in book club, so you don’t have to buy the book. You don’t have to read ahead,” Terwilliger said.

She also sends summaries to people who have missed meetings to keep them updated.

As students walk by, Terwilliger invites them to join. Some people can’t stay for the whole session and are welcome to stay for as long as they wish.

Marissa Turpin, who is pursuing a geology major, joined the book club about a year and a half ago.  

“I remember thinking this looks really cozy and homey… and I sat in and it was a really great book,” Turpin said. “[I enjoy] the moment and connecting with others… it’s nice to feel like you belong in a group.”

Micheal Rosebeary, a business management student, also discovered the book club as he was walking through Rasmuson Hall. Since the fall semester of 2017, he has found the meetings to be wholesome.

“We’ve been talking about resilience and stuff like that, so you get some good life lessons out of it and usually the books we are reading are pretty entertaining,” Rosebeary said.

His favorite parts of the group are meeting new people and having good conversation.

UAA students can feel lonely. For those who attend an hour or two every week of tea, casual conversation and book discussion are one step further towards a “connected and caring community.”

For more information, contact the Care Team Coordinator at (907) 786-6065.

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