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“Dear America” Book Group in Collaboration with LitNet – Part One of Two

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Join us for this collaborative, two-part book group led by LitNet of South Berkshire!


Session One: Tuesday, May 23, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

This session will be led by (LitNet tutor) Tom Verdi with his guest, Fernando Leon, an Ecuadorian-Berkshirite.


Tom will introduce the book, then he will present a video interview with the author of Dear America, Jose Antonio Vargas, which will be followed by a discussion. Then, Fernando will discuss his experience as an undocumented American. Books will be checked out at this session.

Session Two: Tuesday, June 27, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Participants will have read the book and Tom will lead a guided discussion about the book/topic.



About the book, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen:

Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, called “the most famous undocumented immigrant in America,” tackles one of the defining issues of our time in this explosive and deeply personal call to arms.

“This is not a book about the politics of immigration. This book––at its core––is not about immigration at all. This book is about homelessness, not in a traditional sense, but in the unsettled, unmoored psychological state that undocumented immigrants like myself find ourselves in. This book is about lying and being forced to lie to get by; about passing as an American and as a contributing citizen; about families, keeping them together, and having to make new ones when you can’t. This book is about constantly hiding from the government and, in the process, hiding from ourselves. This book is about what it means to not have a home.

After 25 years of living illegally in a country that does not consider me one of its own, this book is the closest thing I have to freedom.”

—Jose Antonio Vargas, from Dear America


About the speakers:

Tom Verdi is a retired social worker who is currently an adjunct faculty member and academic advisor at Elms College BSW program in the Berkshires. He is also a LitNet volunteer working with 2 young Colombian students and volunteers at Volunteers in Medicine 2x/week, providing behavioral health counseling to an immigrant population adjusting to this new culture and way of life. He is presently working on a joint presentation with Fernando to area social workers entitled “ Living with Fear: The emotional health of those living without documentation.”


Fernando A León has lived in the Berkshires since 2000; he is originally from Ecuador. He is interested in exploring art and organizing as a collaborative experience and a tool for transformation. He firmly believes in the value of diversity and the benefits of an inclusive society.

He has developed collaborations, proposals, projects, and content for Downtown Pittsfield Inc, Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, MASS MoCA, Latinas413, Berkshire Natural Resources Council, Radio Nomadas, and Soasti Bros Productions.

Fernando has a background in marketing, art, graphics, video, and web design. He is passionate about conveying meaning through images, form, color, and storytelling.

Fernando A León vive en los Berkshires desde el año 2000; es originario de Ecuador. Él está interesado en explorar el arte y la organización comunitaria como una experiencia colaborativa y una herramienta para la transformación. Cree firmemente en el valor de la diversidad y los beneficios de una sociedad inclusiva.

Ha desarrollado colaboraciones, propuestas, proyectos y contenidos para: Downtown Pittsfield Inc, Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, MASS MoCA, Latinas413, Berkshire Natural Resources Council, Radio Nomadas y Soasti Bros Productions. Fernando tiene formación y experiencia en marketing, arte, diseño gráfico, video y diseño web. Le apasiona transmitir significado a través de imágenes, formas, colores y narraciones.