One Student’s Idea…from Klein to Vietnam
On January 13, 2019, one of my Kleb students, Mahtab, emailed me with an idea. Mahtab, a 7th grader, was passionate about books and reading and had a HUGE heart for helping others. She knew that there were people around the world who did not have access to books or money to buy books and wanted to do something about it.
The following week, Mahtab and I met in the library to discuss her idea. There were so many things to think about and questions to answer! Who would she help first? Where was the greatest need? How would language and culture factor in? Those first few questions prompted some research. Through her research, Mahtab discovered that Vietnam was a country that had a large population of people learning the English language and a great need for books. She decided Vietnam would be the country she would help with a book drive.
Once Mahtab decided on Vietnam as the recipient of her book drive collections, there were more questions to ponder. What types of books would she collect? For which age groups? English or Vietnamese? How would we get the books to Vietnam? We began to research organizations in the Houston area that might already have a relationship with a school in Vietnam that we could partner with to help make Mahtab’s vision of providing books for those in need a reality. After several calls, which included Klein’s Multilingual Department, the Houston Asian Chamber of Commerce, and a couple of non-profit organizations, we found Sunflower Mission, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide educational support to the youth in Vietnam. Sunflower Mission was planning to send a team of 40 volunteers to open a K-5 school in June 2019 and was in need of English books for the school’s library! Mr. Dinh Ngo, Director at Sunflower Mission, was excited to hear Mahtab’s ideas for the book drive and agreed to help us coordinate the project. The timing could not have been more perfect!
Plans for collecting books for Mahtab’s book drive kicked into high gear. There was so much to do and only a few months left of school to get it all done! Mahtab created a flyer about her book drive that was sent to all the librarians in Klein asking if their libraries would be willing to donate two picture books to the new school being built in Vietnam. Because Vietnam is a foreign government, Mahtab would need to provide Sunflower Mission a list and pictures of all the books that would be donated so they could be screened before entering Vietnam. The books were collected at the April Librarian’s PLC meeting and sorted into boxes to be delivered to Sunflower Mission’s office in Stafford. Dinh Ngo invited Mahtab’s family and me to meet Sunflower Mission’s Board of Directors and deliver the books in May. From there, the books would travel in the luggage of Sunflower Mission’s volunteer team to the new schools in Loc Nam and Loc Thanh, Vietnam. The books were dedicated along with the school to the Vietnamese students this past summer in June.
Mahtab’s book drive is a beautiful example of what can happen when we teach, foster, and encourage inquiry, creativity, and empathy in our students. Because of Mahtab’s idea, these students in the remote Central Highlands of Vietnam have a library of books with which to learn English. How amazing is that?!
Source: “Sunflower Mission.” Sunflower Mission, 2019, sunflowermission.squarespace.com/.
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