Transatlantic partnership encourages students to ‘imagine Rochester’

Transatlantic partnership encourages students to ‘imagine Rochester’
Imagining Rochester Book Cover
Students from Oakland University's Honors College collaborated with students from Rochester, Michigan and Rochester, England on a book called Imagining Rochester, a collection of short essays, poems and artwork.

A collaboration between two cities an ocean away from each other recently resulted in the publication of a book with contributions from students at Oakland University and West Middle School in Rochester Hills.

The project, dubbed “Imagining Rochester” invited students in Rochester, Michigan to imagine life in Rochester, Kent, a riverside town in southeast England. Conversely, students at Rochester Grammar School in Rochester, Kent contributed their conceptions of life in Rochester, Michigan.


The book, which was assembled by OU Honors College students, is a collection of short essays, poems and artwork that celebrates the two Rochesters for the distinct place they hold within their respective regions. Celebrating its bicentennial in 2017, Rochester, Michigan (formerly Avon Township) is known for being the first settlement of Oakland County. Rochester, Kent, located along the River Medway, about 30 miles southeast of London, is known for being one of Charles Dickens’ favorite haunts.


With a foreword written by Jeffrey Cuthbertson, former mayor of Rochester, Michigan, and an introduction by Honors College Dean Graeme Harper, the 41-page anthology features a whimsical collection of descriptions that are at once humorous and endearing.


Imagining Rochester Group

Students and teachers from the Rochester to Rochester partnership are pictured with Jeffrey Cuthbertson, second from left, former mayor of Rochester, Michigan.

One student imagined Rochester, England as a slice of literary heaven. The student wrote, “There are dozens of different accents of tea to try, a plethora of coffee blends, and best of all, a whole wall filled with books, top to bottom! The shelf ranging from the greatest texts of C.S. Lewis to Huxley’s classic Brave New World.


Another student rhymed about the wonders of Rochester, Michigan.

“Downtown Rochester has many shops / With Christmas lights so bright / Houses in simple brick and wood / the town glows in the night.”


To formally unveil the book, students and parents gathered in Oak View Hall, along with representatives from the Rochester City Council and students and leaders from OU.


Cuthbertson, who served as mayor of Rochester, Michigan until 2015, told the audience that the collaboration has created a special bond between the two Rochesters – one that he hopes will grow well into the future.


“Being a part of something that is bigger than you, and helping to build on tradition and community takes generations,” Cuthbertson said. “The long view is far longer than we imagine.”


Dean Harper added, “Our imaginations are one of the most powerful tools available to each of us. Imagining what it is like to live somewhere else, be someone else and experience what others experience creates positive human bonds, the kind that always make the world a better place.”


Learn more about the Honors College at