A story on the curious habits of two sets of primates — the chimpanzee-like bonobos and humans — earned Vanessa Woods’ Bonobo Handshake the thumbs-up as the 2011 Oswego Reading Initiative selection.
Woods’ story of self-discovery chronicles traveling to the Congo to work with her then-fiancé (now husband), which led to her discovering her interest and ability to work with the endangered bonobos.
Rameen Mohammadi of the ORI committee noted the book’s appeal included its focus on interdisciplinary topics and learning about other cultures. “You learn about these species, but you also learn about the Congo and how dictatorships have destroyed its natural resources.”
The college is working with Woods to give an author’s talk and also speak to classes some time in the fall, Mohammadi said. A summer study-abroad course led by Webe Kadima of the chemistry faculty, titled “Treating Diabetes with Medicinal Plants in Congo,” will connect some students with the homeland of the story as well. Other related programming could include film series, art and other speakers.