Archive | November, 2012

Book Donation Celebration

5 Nov

After joining the Peace Corps, it became abundantly clear through conversations with my mother that she was telling perfect strangers that her daughter was a Peace Corps volunteer. This was bothersome to me, as I’ve never been big on talking to or sharing random personal information with strangers. However, my mom’s random over-sharing ended up helping me discover a really great organization called Darien Book Aid Plan, so I guess I can’t complain (Thanks, Mom!).

My mom brought up my Peace Corps service to an employee at the Denver Botanic Garden, who happened to be a returned volunteer herself. During their conversation, this volunteer mentioned Darien Book Aid as a source for book donations. My mom then shared this information with me and I immediately went to the organization’s website to check them out.

Darien Book Aid Plan logo

This awesome all-volunteer organization, located in Darien, Connecticut, donates books to libraries, schools and other organizations all over the world. Upon further investigation I discovered that they have a spectacular reputation with Peace Corps volunteers, as they have donated to countless volunteers over the years, and make the book request process very easy.

I work at a very nice cultural center that has an impressive library, but for months I had wanted to start a small library at the community center that I also do work with. The community center provides much-needed enrichment for neighborhood kids in the areas of music, dance, art and personal development. It’s also a soup kitchen, feeding kids 7 days a week. I decided to submit a book request to start a mini-library for these kids, many of whom are intimidated by the fancy library on the other side of town.

I submitted the request for books to Darien Book Aid, and then waited. They caution that sometimes it can take half a year to get the books, and that proved to be about my timeline. It was a pleasant surprise to hear in early September that I had a package waiting for me in Asuncion from the organization.

The box arrives

The box from Darien, a welcome arrival.

I immediately started planning a book donation celebration at the community center and tried to figure out when I could actually pick up the books (as I live 4.5 hours from Asuncion). Luckily, my boss came by in October and was able to deliver the books to me. It was great opening the box and sorting through the books that were donated. Many were bilingual (in English and Spanish), which is great for the students at the community center, as I teach English there.

the books from Darien

A view of the donated books

A few of the books were for adults, so I set those aside to donate to the library at the Cultural Center. They made a nice display of them as “new donations.”

The new donation display at the cultural center library

The new donation display at the cultural center library

Due the fact that rain cancels planned events, I didn’t get to have my book donation celebration at the community center until this past Sunday. I combined the book donation with the opening of my Ahecha photo exhibit to create an exciting morning for the kids.

table of books

I set the books up on this table for display before the event.

Kids before the event

The kids right before we started the event.

We started the event with some general remarks about the donation and our new mini-library, then I read a book I translated into Spanish about how to care for books (which is essentially a warning of all the things you shouldn’t do to books).

what not to do to books

Example book that I got to destroy with markers, mud, food and stickers to teach kids how NOT to treat books.

Next I read “The Purple Kangaroo” a very cute book that was part of the donation. We then let the kids have time to read and enjoy the new books.

kids looking at books

Kids check out some of the donations

free reading time

The kids reading on their own

more reading

We read for about half an hour after the storytime.

They were all very excited to check out the books and I have no doubt that the collection will be well-used in the years to come. I plan on making requests to other organizations in Paraguay to expand the collection.

The kids, community center staff and I all decided we wanted to give a special thanks to Darien Book Aid for this wonderful donation, so we took a few pictures together to say gracias.

Gracias Darien Book Aid

Gracias Darien Book Aid!

book donation photo

The kids show off the new books and their excitement

Check out all the photos from my book donation on flickr.