UNC Asheville Chooses “Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work” by StoryCorps Founder Dave Isay as Summer Reading for First-Year Students

Dave IsayDave Isay
June 14, 2019

UNC Asheville’s new students will be reading Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, by StoryCorps founder Dave Isay, as part of the university’s Summer Reading Program. The book shares personal stories recorded as part of the StoryCorps project.

Isay will come to campus on Sept. 19 to give a free public talk at 7:30 p.m. in Lipinsky Auditorium. In preparation for that visit, first-year students will discuss the book in small groups led by faculty and staff as part of orientation before the start of the fall semester.

Isay, a radio producer, began what grew into StoryCorps in 2003 with a story recording booth in New York City. StoryCorps, with a mission “to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world,” now has story booths in different cities, and mobile story booths that travel the country. In the StoryCorps process, two people who know each other engage in an interview, guided by a facilitator. A weekly edited StoryCorps segment is broadcast every Friday morning as part of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. Many more StoryCorps interviews are recorded than are used on the radio – the complete interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

“We’re hoping that through the stories in the book, our incoming students will see many examples of people following their dreams, their passions – finding a way to do what they love,” said UNC Asheville Dean of Students Jackie McHargue. “There is so much financial pressure on young people – we want to give them encouragement to prepare to make their work more than simply making a living.”

“When students find the subject or the questions that fascinate them, they study more deeply and work that much harder because it feels less like work. It is the same in the workplace,” said UNC Asheville Assistant Professor of German Regine Criser, who together with McHargue led the committee that made the summer reading selection. “Not everyone ends up making a living doing what they love, but Isay’s book provides examples of people who are doing that, from all walks of life.”

Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work is the most recent of Isay’s five books based on StoryCorps interviews – a series that began in 2007 with Listening is an Act of Love. Isay and StoryCorps have received two Peabody Awards, a TED Prize, and a MacArthur Fellowship, commonly called the “Genius Grant.”

UNC Asheville summer reading selections in recent years have been The Other Wes Moore, by Wes Moore; Make Your Home Among Strangers, by Jennine Capó Crucet; and How to Fly a Horse, by Kevin Ashton.