Yesterday I returned from a two-week trip in Kenya and Tanzania that included setting up a community library, at the Kenya Connect LRC in the town of Wamunyu, Kenya; today I went to the library. Two libraries, actually—one in Catonsville and one in Ellicott City. I took out 2 movies, 7 graphic novels/comic books, and 6 books. I can have the books and comic books for three weeks, but it's unlikely I'll finish all of these in this time. At the library, I laughed to myself because, as usual, I had bitten off more than I can chew when it came to books. And then I thought about the Learning Resource Center in Wamunyu. There are about 800 books at the LRC—a good number, but not enough. Between the two libraries I visited today, there are enough books that even the unnecessary and gluttonous number I took out today will not be missed. I reflect that I am so incredibly fortunate to be only a short distance from so many books. I know I would be a drastically different person today without the constant exposure I have had to books throughout my life. I hope that the LRC can help expose children to more books. Reading itself does so much for people—in a place where English is the typical child's third language, and a necessity in order to take national exams, reading can strengthen grasp of grammar and improve vocabulary. In addition, it widens students' knowledge base, and exposes them to different cultures and stories. And of course, reading is a lot of fun. But none of this can happen if students don't have books in the first place.
Kenya Connect is still collecting books—a team will carry them to the LRC next summer. If you want to give books, please message me (there are some kinds of books we want in particular). All of the students I met in Kenya are hardworking and driven, but lack the resources we in America take for granted. It's amazing I have access to this much knowledge and this many books—I hope that we'll be able to bring this access to students in Wamunyu.