September 15, 2010

Inspirational ‘Evening in New Orleans’ is Sept. 23

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An inspirational “Evening in New Orleans” featuring Louisiana cuisine, music, dancing, and acclaimed author Chris Rose is coming to Southern Illinois University Carbondale Sept. 23.

It’s part of the University’s Saluki First Year initiative and a chance for the Saluki family to gather, learn and share. The theme of the 2010-2011 Saluki First Year is “The Storm Remembered: Tragedies and Triumphs of Katrina.”

Students will enjoy dishes inspired by New Orleans from 4 to 7 p.m. at Trueblood Hall. The menu includes vegetarian gumbo, chicken Creole soup, grillades (New Orleans style pot roast), chicken fricassee, grilled snapper, shrimp etouffee, red beans and rice, smothered green beans with potatoes, corn pudding, candied yams, gateau de sirop (Cajun syrup cake), bread pudding and chocolate pecan pie. Guests are welcome at the dinner as well and can purchase tickets for $8.50. No reservations are necessary.

While enjoying a literal taste of New Orleans, diners can also view a special décor featuring items related to New Orleans or Katrina. Rose, author of “1 Dead in the Attic,” the poignant book about the aftermath of the storm, will visit with those enjoying the dinner.

Dennis Stroughmatt and Creole Stomp will add their high-energy Creole and Zydeco music to the festivities from 5 to 7 p.m., also at Trueblood. An SIUC alumnus with a master’s degree in history, Stroughmatt is a recognized African Creole and French Creole fiddle master and Creole-style accordionist. The five-piece concert/dance band presents a blend of foot-stomping tunes coupled with bilingual translation, a touch of song history and tidbits about the Cajun and Creole culture. They’ll even have a dance instructor on hand.

“1 Dead in the Attic” is actually a collection of stories Rose wrote as a “Times-Picayune” newspaper columnist in the year and a half after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. There are tales of death and life, of despair and hope, even stories about refrigerators. The book’s name refers to messages rescuers spray-painted on homes in the flooded area of New Orleans, messages including “1 dead in attic.” In the aftermath of the hurricane and subsequent flooding, Rose saw the fears, the heartbreaks and the destruction, but also the caring, the sharing and the resiliency of the human spirit. He’ll share during a lecture at 8 p.m. in Student Center Ballroom D.

While the focus is new students, everyone is welcome at Rose’s presentation. New students at SIUC received a copy of Rose’s book. It is the common reader for this academic year. Now, they can meet the man behind the book, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary and the Pulitzer winner for his contributions to the Times-Picayune Public Service Award. Rose was also a finalist for the 2006 Michael Kelly Award.

The Evening in New Orleans is one of the diverse, inspiring, and entertaining events that are part of Saluki First Year this academic year. The goal of Saluki First Year is helping students successfully transition from high school or community college to the University environment. It is a comprehensive program involving virtually every academic unit and part of campus. It is also the place first-year students go to get questions answered.

Saluki First Year offers resources connecting students to the campus community and helps them create academic and social networks, strengthen their professional and personal skills and forge friendships and connections, according to Saluki First Year co-directors Julie Payne Kirchmeier, director of University Housing, and Mark Amos, associate professor of English.

To learn more about Saluki First Year, visit the office in Room 3341 at Faner Hall, call 618/453-1828 or visit the website at Saluki First Year is also on Facebook, Twitter and Blackboard.