The Girl From Aleppo book cover

The Girl From Aleppo

About The Book

Kurdish teenager Nujeen Mustafa has cerebral palsy and cannot walk. This did not stop her dreaming of becoming an astronaut and braving inconceivable odds to travel in her wheelchair from Syria to Germany in search of a new life. Telling the story in her remarkable quirky voice, Nujeen recounts growing up through dictatorship and war and describes her harrowing journey to Europe, pushed by her sister. On the terrifying trip across the Mediterranean, she keeps calm as other passengers in the dinghy discussed tossing out the wheelchair, by listing all the Romanov emperors. Finally they reach Germany in search of safety, education and the medical treatment she needs.

“The story of Nujeen reminds the world that refugees, just like others, have aspirations and dreams for peace, education and a better society. Nujeen inspires me to dream without limits.”

— Malala Yousafzai



Book Discussion

UVU President: Dr. Astrid S. Tuminez

When: Tuesday, September 17th @ 7:00 p.m.

Where:  Bingham Gallery (Fulton Library)

Discussion immediately followed by light refreshments.

Authors Visit

Author: Christina Lamb (with a possible Skype-in by Nujeen Mustafa)

When: Tuesday, February 18, 2020, Keynote at 1:00pm

Where: Ragan Theatre

Keynote immediately followed by a Reception & Book-signing

About The Program



Aims to provide a common academic experience, to introduce students to intellectual life at the university, to create a greater sense of community among students, faculty, and staff, emphasize the value of reading, and establish the connection between reading, intellectual development, and other cultural events on campus.

Participation Credit

Required text for SLSS 1000, ENGH 0890, and some ENGL 1010 courses. Students not enrolled in these courses are encouraged to participate in this unique opportunity to exchange your ideas about the book with the university president, faculty members, and your peers. Participation does not count for course credit.

How to Get a Copy

All new freshmen for the 2019-2020 academic year will be given a UVU-custom copy of The Girl from Aleppo when they attend Jumpstart Orientation. Books are also available for pick-up in the Losee Center, Room 405, beginning June 2019.


The program begins with a book discussion with the university president. Throughout the year, there will be many other events and activities on campus related to the themes of the book.

Why this book

A faculty committee recommends five books to the University President, who then makes the final selection.


Please send an email to for answers to any other questions not listed above.


When faculty from diverse academic disciplines integrate a common text into their freshmen level courses, we achieve the following objectives:

Objective 1

Facilitate a universal academic experience that enables dialogue and learning around a common point of reference.

Our incoming freshman body is diverse and non-residential. The freshman reading book provides a common academic experience that can help students of varying backgrounds and academic preparedness to connect with one another in an educationally purposeful way.

Objective 2

Initiate a universal academic experience that introduces reading as a gateway to meaningful exploration of a topic via a variety of academic disciplines.

Freshman students benefit from observing how a central topic can be applied and explored from a variety of methods and points of view. i.e., how might a sociologist apply this topic? Mathematician? Biologist? Etc. This process helps to reinforce the benefits of a solid general educational core, enhances critical thinking skills, and possibly assists students with their major and career choices.


When new freshmen encounter the freshman reading book in multiple academic and social settings, they experience a learning model that provides “environments and experiences that bring students to discover and construct knowledge for themselves” (Barr and Tagg, 1995, p. 12), moving them beyond the traditional instructional model of simply receiving information. This process more effectively enables students to become “members of communities of learners that make discoveries and solve problems” (Barr and Tagg, 1995).


  1. Faculty ideas for incorporating the freshman reading book into your classroom
  2. About the author, Nujeen Mustafa
  3. Nujeen Mustafa's Ted Talk
  4. The UN Refugee Agency news story
  5. National Geographic news story
  6. The Conflict in Syria discussion guide
  7. TedEd - Syria: What Students Need to Know
  8. Attend events to strengthen peer connections within your class and reinforce the concept of reading as a gateway to the academic culture of UVU.

If you have any ideas on how UVU can more dynamically integrate the freshman book into course curriculum and campus events, we'd love to hear them!