Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Old Friends

"Old stories are like old friends, she used to say. You have to visit
them from time to time."

In case you can't guess from the "Books Finished in the Peace Corps"
sidebar, reading has become a big part of my life here in the Peace
Corps. I'm rarely found without a book especially because it is
common for meetings to start late and I like to keep myself
entertained. Many an afternoon has been spent sitting outside of my
door reading books. I used to feel guilty about this "lack of work"
but John William and I decided a long time ago that reading outside
counted as work since we were setting a good example for the kids in
the community.

The kids are still pretty surprised when they see me reading. "Are
you studying?" they ask. "Nope," I reply, "Just reading for fun."
They often give me quizzical looks and then try to sound out the
English words over my shoulder.

Reading for fun is a foreign concept here. To the best of my
knowledge, it's not really encouraged in the schools. There is no
library at my site, except for the one at the school, which is closed
for vacations.

So I'm starting an uphill battle. I'm trying to start a Reading Club
for the youth at my site.
I'm requesting that kids ask their parents if they can temporarily
donate their books to the Club. The kids will be able to check out
books from me and read them. When the kids finish a book they need to
do a small project. When they finish the project they'll earn a small
prize (like time on my computer, playing one of my games, or getting a
piece of candy). After finishing five books and projects the kids
will earn a big prize.

Yes, I am bribing the children to read. But if it worked for the
Pizza Hut Book-It program, it can work for me.

Today was the first meeting time for the Reading Club and only two
kids showed up. But they checked out a book and sat and read with me
for awhile. Not an overwhelming success but a success nonetheless.

If you happen to have any picture or easy reader books in Spanish that
you don't want any more… I know of at least two kids in Peru who would
love to read them.

See you in a few weeks!

1 comment:

Bob Flink said...

Hi Beth

Your reading efforts are inspiring. BTW, I found out about your blog from your friend Ruth who shares from time to time in our discussions at a Caribou here in Minneapolis. I'm looking forward to reading your previous blog entries. My very best wishes for your success with the children.