Trinity Grammar School’s Arthur Holt Library has found a unique way to engage the school community and give them the opportunity to meet authors, discuss books and enjoy breakfast all before the working day begins.
Trinity's Books at Breakfast events captivate audiences by inviting accomplished authors to visit the school and address students, parents and teachers over breakfast, with the aim of promoting boys' literacy. Inaugural speaker Professor Munjed al Muderis related his life story, which is the subject of his book, Walking Free.
An enthusiastic and completely enthralled audience of students, parents and teachers enjoyed a light breakfast, while listening to the professor explain how he began his life as the privileged only son of wealthy Iraqis, and fulfilled his dream of becoming a surgeon.
The audience was visibly moved as Munjed recounted how his life was altered in a single moment when his surgical team was asked to mutilate the ears of three coach-loads of army deserters. Refusing, the head of the unit was shot on the spot. In the split second that followed, Munjed had a life-changing decision to make: obey the order and violate his ethics, morals and values; disobey and be killed; or hide in the ladies’ toilets and then flee.
Realising his life in Iraq was over, Munjed decided to flee, becoming a refugee and spending 10 months in one of Australia’s toughest detention centres, constantly being told to go home.
Arthur Holt Library Director of Library Services, Stefanie Gaspari said “It was inspiring to hear how he survived this experience, holding onto his humanity, with a life-affirming glass half-full attitude.”
Following his release, Munjed returned to orthopaedic surgery, and today is one of the world’s leading osseo-integration specialists. His ground-breaking work allows amputees to have robotic limbs implanted, in place of traditional prosthetics. He is a passionate advocate for human rights, an ambassador for the Red Cross and frequent speaker for Amnesty International.
“It was great for the boys to hear a different perspective about refugees, rather than the constant bombardment of views that are highly politicised. It gave the term ‘refugee’ a human face with a real life story of adversity and triumph,” commented Ms Gaspari.
Following the success of the inaugural event, Trinity plans to hold two Books at Breakfast (books@breakfast) events each year. Male authors act as role models and reinforce the idea that boys and reading are a great mix. With Australian literacy levels under the spotlight, Trinity aims to promote reading for education and enjoyment.
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