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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Kids of Gubat, Sorsogon Decides To Read



“So many books, so little time.” 
― Frank Zappa

In the case of the students of Rizal Elementary School in Gubat, Sorsogon. It used to be the other way around. There were no books because there wasn't a library in the first place. All that has changed now. Remember this Book Sharing Project a couple of months ago? well, people heeded that call and donated large sums of money and used books. The end result is a brand new library with painted walls, newly-constructed bookshelves and more importantly, books that will make any kid beam with delight and whisper to him/herself  "So many books.."

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the new library 
This is the Bayanihan Library organized by an alumni of Rizal Elementary School in cooperation with volunteers from a few other organizations, travel bloggers, random blog readers, social networking friends and strangers who all became part of this wonderful undertaking. It started with an idea which snowballed into a reality far exceeding everyone's expectation. 

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Excited schoolkids
Just like any book can incite an idea, a dream perhaps, a new knowledge which will kick start a lifelong fascination. These are the things we want the kids of Rizal Elementary School to experience. A book for each of them to read after their class. A book for them to borrow and take home, to read in a silent corner, with a fervor and a running imagination that will help each of them, nurture an idea or a desire to either become somebody else or do a particularly great thing in the future.

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Let the games, err reading begins

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” 
― Jorge Luis Borges

For these kids it surely would be, soon they will be reading about the vast space, the planet Earth, running their fingers to scan numbers of encyclopedia volumes, reading about various species of animals and plants. Through reading, their world will become much bigger and more vibrant.

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Future Einstein? Alex Garland? or Future http://journeyingjames.com/?
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” 
― Charles William Eliot

The whole section of grade four students faced the two volunteers Lauren and Dan while they read a story to them. At first they were discretely uninterested, just going with the flow of that morning's program. But as the real power of a book starts to be felt, soon as Lauren and Dan recited aloud - words from the story they were reading, the "Paradise of the Animals", the faces of the students turned into an interested lot. They start to imagine together with the story and one could only wonder how powerful the story might be if they read it themselves.

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Lauren of Epicpotato.com and Lawyer Dan reading a story to the kids
“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.” 
― Henry David Thoreau

When I was young my father's office got burned down. According to him he wasn't able to salvage important documents he deemed important in his then business. What he did saved was a bunch of thick leather covered encyclopedia volumes. I remember going home from my elementary class one day and seeing him going over that encyclopedia set, telling me I should start reading it so as not to waste his effort of saving it from the fire. Which I did, and not too long after that, I became a sixth-grade expert of World War II history.

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Kids digging the book reading session
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Tabing Ilog star Paula Peralejo reads a story to the kids
The new library of Rizal Elementary School now possesses that kind of promise. To help turn the learning habits of these school kids for the better with the help of the pages from its books. They now have a second place to find solace to, once their respective classes are over. Learning should not stop at the classrooms, it should continue at home as well. For these students to be able to borrow books and take it them at home would be the great first step towards attaining a better quality of education.

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As excited as we were for the opening of the library, I noticed many of the students were accompanied by their parents during the event. All of them mommies had this wide smile on their faces, knowing perhaps that the road to knowledge for their children has just gotten easier to thread. After a short program held at the school's grounds where a few of the project's organizers took the stage to offer some inspiring remarks, a priest performed a blessing ritual after which three honor students took the honors of cutting the ceremonial ribbon. Thereby signaling the opening of the school's brand new library.

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Rizal Elementary School Alumni and Book Sharing Project lead Em Balabat
The school principal led the kids to tour their new library by lining them all up and passing a circle motion inside the library. An amused "wow" and "ooooh" came out of the student's mouth as they point to each other the many types of books which now fills their new library. I stood there and watched em kids all giddy with bright eyes just as they were inside a toy store. They might never have all the toys they want, but what they have here are far better than any toys in the world. I think to myself, the world just got brighter for them.

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Grade 4 students performing a native dance
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Guest of honor Baby Doll Luna
I am writing this almost a month since a bus load of volunteers and 'book sharing project' organizers departed for Gubat, Sorsogon. We have since returned back to our houses, went back to our own life, with the day job, doing our hobbies on the side and merely going with the flow. Just a tiny speck of change since then. I don't mind at all, as long as the kids of Gubat Elementery School, with the help of the books you all  placed in their library shelves, will experience a gigantic change in their life, for them to be educated and inspired to accomplish greater things in the future.


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