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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Panelist Bio


Sara Bongiorni
Author of A Year Without 'Made in China'

Sara Bongiorni, author of A Year Without 'Made in China': One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy, was born and raised in San Diego County, where she attended Helix High School and the University of California, San Diego.

After graduating from UCSD, she spent several years working in book publishing before returning to school to pursue a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Since subsequently worked as a business writer at regional newspapers and publications, first in California and later in Louisiana, where she moved in the late '90s.

As a reporter, one of Sara's areas of special interest was international trade and its impact on local economies. She won several local, state and national awards for her stories, including a 2002 "Best in Business" award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for a series on the impact of out-migration on the Louisiana economy.

Sara has been a freelance writer since 2005, during which time she has published essays in The Christian Science Monitor, The Shanghai Daily News and other publications.

A Year Without 'Made in China' is Sara's first book. It is a vivid, personal account of a yearlong experiment that began on January 1, 2005, when Sara and her family resolved to forgo goods imported from China for one year.

Like most consumers, the Bongiornis knew China needed consumers like them to fuel its vast economy. The boycott of Chinese merchandise would help the family answer a different question: did they need China, too?

China's deep reach into this middle-class family's life is revealed through the difficulties the Bongiornis face in trying to live without Chinese imports. For the author, life without Chinese goods means a daily string of frustrations and the need for dogged creativity to overcome them. The book describes her struggle to keep her rebellious husband in line, a face-off with her young son over Chinese-made toys and her attempt to build her own mousetrap when she discovers the one she wants is made only in China.

Sara's insights as a former reporter also come into play in the book. When Wal-Mart downplays its reliance on Chinese products in a national magazine, Sara sets out for the nearest Super Wal-Mart to inspect its shelves to catch the retailer in a fib.

The book's epilogue tells readers what happened after the boycott officially ended on December 31, 2005.

Current Topic


     08/18 - The Power of Reading

How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?
The ability to read sets the foundation of who we are and what we can be. Through reading we expand our world, learn new things and increase our base of knowledge. In fact, a parent’s reading level is the greatest factor in a child’s academic success. Children who can’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

In Louisiana, 20 percent of adults are illiterate – five points higher than the national rate. How is Louisiana combatting its illiteracy problem across generational lines? How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?

Louisiana Public Square: The Power of Reading looks for answers and explores the value of lifelong reading through the lens of the PBS series The Great American Read Wednesday, August 22 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recorded Tuesday, August 14 in the Magnolia Performing Arts Pavilion at Baton Rouge Community College.)

Our panelists are:
- Linda-Marie Barrett, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)
- Rebecca Hamilton, MLIS; Louisiana State Librarian
- Danny Heitman; Journalist and Louisiana author
- Miranda Restovic, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH).
- Gary Robertson; Adult Literacy Advocates

The program features interviews with John Cavalier, owner of Cavalier House Books; Gary Robertson, Executive Director of Adult Literacy Advocates; representatives from the LEH PRIME TIME intergenerational reading program, and Superintendent John White with the Louisiana Department of Education.

LPB CEO Beth Courtney and Robyn Merrick, Southern University VP of External Affairs, host the show.

Louisiana Public Square can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.

This episode of Louisiana Public Square is underwritten by Community Coffee’s Cash for Schools Program, the Louisiana Forestry Association, LSU Press and the Southern Independent Booksellers’ Authors Round the South.

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