Sharlen Smith, WorldTeach volunteer who helped her class produce Takki and His Boat, informed us that she took six of the 12C students from Kwajalein High School to the elementary school, where they read their book to the third grade classes.
She said it was amazing to see them share their work with younger kids and there was one student in particular who was so great with the kids that she told him he should become a teacher.
We are delighted that Marshallese children are teaching other Marshallese children valuable marine safety rules that could someday save their lives, in addition to sharing their excitement about the bookmaking process. Thank you, Sharlen!
One year ago, Heather Jarvis at ABC Radio Australia, an international radio broadcasting program, interviewed Jamie Zvirzdin and Laura Sundblad following the publication of The Important Book about Majuro. It was wonderful to return and report that twelve new Marshallese/English children's books have been published!
Zvirzdin details how the project started, how it unfolded, what the books are like, the importance of bilingual books for Marshallese children, the reactions of the students when they received their books, and more. (Audio clip is on the lower right if you click on the link below.)
Click here to listen to the interview.
While visiting Kwajalein Atoll last month, I was able to meet with Susannah Prenoveau, who has lived on Kwajalein with her family for 15 years now and trains teachers as part of the Child, Youth, and School Services Program on the military base. I was very impressed with her experience and her passion for creating books (See her own books, which her children illustrated, at www.alligatorscoming.com
). Susannah is taking charge of The Unbound Bookmaker Project on Kwajalein Atoll and organized an event with the Kwaj and Ebeye 4-H clubs on January 14, 2013.
After we gathered everyone together, I was able to explain to the children and leaders how the project started and what process we follow to publish new children's books. Susannah then read The Important Book
by Margaret Wise Brown (Ethel Nelson's inspiration for creating The Important Book about Majuro
) and parts of The Important Book about Majuro
to the kids. Susannah will be fundraising to do more books about Ebeye (interested parties please contact me
).The children were then given blank mini books and markers so they could
create their own books, and after some snacks they shared some of their stories.Thanks to Susannah, Jared, and everyone at the 4-H Club for participating! We are looking forward to the 12 WorldTeach books being read and distributed to as many children as possible in the Marshall Islands.
Ebeye, one of the small islands of Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, is known as the "Slum of the Pacific" because of the poverty there. On January 11, 2013, I was able to take the ferry from Kwajalein to Ebeye to visit Class 12C of Kwajalein High School; these students are the authors of the forthcoming Takki and His Boat
, a book on marine safety that is part of our Unbound Bookmaker Project
Sharlen Smith, one of the WorldTeach volunteers on Kwajalein Atoll, invited me to come and read the first book, The Important Book about Majuro
, to them and share some information about how to publish books. They normally hold class on Guegeegue (pronounced goo-jee-goo!), a neighboring island, but the bus, which takes students from Ebeye to the high school on Guegeegue via a bumpy causeway, was broken that week. We met in the evening at the local elementary school.
It was wonderful to go and thank Sharlen's class for the work they did on their book. All 12 new Marshallese/English children's books are on track to be published and should be available on Amazon the second week in March, if not sooner.
Class 12C of Kwajalein High School
I got to meet Takki himself! This is the young man that the main character is named after. In the book, Takki enters a fishing contest and braves the dangers of the ocean (safely), going on to win the contest and bring honor—and dinner—to his family.
Many thanks to Sharlen Smith (left) for helping her students create their own book and for all the other WorldTeach volunteers (like Stef Stretch, right) who serve the children of the Marshall Islands despite very challenging situations. Thanks for all your collaboration with The Unbound Bookmaker!
I am happy to announce that WAM: Canoes of the Marshall Islands is available on Amazon.com now (click the image to follow the link to Amazon). It was a beautiful project in and of itself, but it also prepared The Unbound Bookmaker for the upcoming barrage of WorldTeach books. Many thanks to the students at WAM, Alexis Bilyard, Kathy Hutton, Alson Kelen, Linton Baso, Daryle Newman, and Zoey Meyers for all their work in this very collaborative project. It was truly a pleasure.
LTG MDA/D Pat O'Reilly, Jamie Zvirzdin, and U.S. Ambassador to the Marshall Islands Tom Armbruster in front of the Wellness Center. September 2012.
Last month I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of three-star Lieutenant General Pat O'Reilly, and he brought up the possibility of starting a volunteer program for personnel on Kwajalein, where many people who work for the military wish to help the local Marshallese population but aren't quite sure how.
I suggested that personnel wishing to be Reading Volunteers could purchase the finished books from The Unbound Bookmaker Project from Amazon.com (the books are sold at-cost) and go read to a classroom of students, raffling off copies, teaching the students how to care for books (many of whom have never owned a book in their life), and showing the students how to create little 8-paged books out of a single sheet of paper. See these little books
from the Majuro Cooperative School as examples.
Susannah Prenoveau, who works with the Child, Youth, and Services Program on Kwaj and has been there for 15 years, has generously volunteered to head this endeavor; she had similar desires a few years ago (see her own self-published books, which her children illustrated, at www.alligatorscoming.com
) and has great ideas on how to involve the teen 4-H and Boys and Girls Club in the readings. She will be collecting donated books to raffle off as well as money to purchase copies of The Unbound Bookmaker Project books that WorldTeach and their classes are doing with us this year. She is also fundraising so that we can add The Important Book about Ebeye
to our collection at some point in the future (which I would be doing remotely since we're leaving the Marshall Islands in April 2013). This is a wonderful way to take the work of the Marshallese children and help other children to read and to be excited and interested in reading. The ~20 books, except for the pilot book, The Important Book about Majuro
, will be in both English and Marshallese.The 20+ books from WorldTeach are scheduled to
be available on Amazon.com starting March 2013, although readings of The Important Book about Majuro
by various organizations like 4-H are being planned for January 2013.
If you'd like to participate in any of these activities, please contact Susannah Prenoveau at email@example.com
.Thanks to all who have encouraged this volunteer program through their time, donations, and support.
General O'Reilly reading to children on Ebeye.
Hello readers! My name is Lauren, and I am the current WorldTeach volunteer at Woja Elementary School in Woja on Majuro in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (a mouthful, no?). My 8th grade class is participating in The Unbound Bookmaker Project with the topic of the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I know many people might wonder how I'm finding time to complete this project while working within the school curriculum and making sure the students are learning what they need to learn. Luckily, their English language school books have specific sections on the environment, which in the first quarter of school I happily made use of to introduce the concepts of the environment, environmental problems, and environmental solutions. Our grammar and writing practice also surrounded these topics. We give special thanks to the Majuro Atoll Waste Company (MAWC) for coming to Woja Elementary to speak to our 8th graders, as well as giving us a tour of the Majuro dump site -- both of which have given my 8th grade class incredible insight into how the 3 Rs work in the RMI. Having spent another couple weeks focused primarily on grammar, writing, and how to organize information, I'm excited for my students to finally begin the writing process. This experience is one that they will surely not forget!
When my students were asked to write in their journals about the project, here were some of their responses:
"I like the this book because I learn about how to make a book."
"I would want to talk about the Book because I would want to be the Illustrator of the Book. The Book is important to the 8th grades. And it means a lot to me. I would want every kid in the Majuro to see me on the Book. [...] The Book will be Deticated to the Children of the Marshall Island with their lovely knowlegde."
"I would wand to write the Book because I would want to be the Illustrartor and, I wand to be a writer. [...] and is imporstant to me because is first time in my life to make the book and, I am so happy [...]. I like the book because is tell about wast [waste] and she make me tell someone about wase is not Good for environment. and the book imporstant to me because is talk about wase and now I know about wast and I clean ever day."
"I like write the class book because it cool to be in R.M.I. history. And I want to write about R.M.I. waste because I want to make R.M.I. people very sad about their small islands and make it very clean. Also I want them to know that I'm the one who's going to make this islands clean in my future."
"I would want to write about the books because I want a kids learnd from it. And my little sister and my little brothers, and the others kids that their school at Woja."
"All i want to is just to write a book [...]. And i make the Marshall Island to be clean and beautiful. And I want the people of Marshall Island to have a choice to clean their house or community and their ocean. And i'll be a getting popular. And i want everyone to be use those 3 Rs. [...] And i want everyone to thanks the MAWC about caring about our waste."
"...and I thing [think] it will make me happy because we will have work together, happy with is [each] other and repect is [each] other."
For more information about why the 3 Rs are of particular importance to the RMI and the build-up of this project, please visit www.lfrail.webs.com.
As we prepare for the major endeavor of typesetting 23 books for The Unbound Bookmaker Project, I have been able to finish a very sweet project. Melba Kaye Smith, my grandmother, wrote up her experiences and I had the privilege of making it into a book. It took over a year and I had the help of my grandmother, my father, my aunt and uncle, and perhaps a little help from above as well in creating this 135-paged history. My Grandma Kaye had what I would call a tough life: she worked hard on a farm in Hooper, Utah; she had her little finger cut off by a farm machine; she experienced appendicitis and the mumps; she was involved a terrible car accident that nearly decapitated her and left her on the edge of death for many months; her father died after getting caught in a hay baler; she had a sad divorce that left her with four little children; she worked herself to the ground to support her family by herself; she had the awkward experience of a second marriage and being compared to her new husband's first wife.
And yet . . .
My grandma endured it all, and she endured it all with her faith intact. She had many spiritual experiences along the way that buoyed her up and helped her feel that despite all that this mortal world could fling at her, she could survive it and still be grateful and positive. It is very clear in her writing that even in those times of agony, she knew that there was a God who loved her and that angels, earthly and otherwise, supported her from day to day. Her second marriage was filled with love and peace and respect. I think my favorite story from my grandmother's book was when she kept hearing how great her second husband's first wife was from other women in the neighborhood. Grandma, despite feeling inferior and like she was always playing second fiddle to someone else, said to herself, "I'll just have to fill my own shoes. I can't fill hers." I admire my Grandma's strength and steadiness. This book was privately published for family members and close friends, but we plan on making a public version available in the next few years. Thanks to Suzy Bills who proofread this book as well as my grandpa's personal history book that we did last year.
Grandma reading to her great-grandkids. Photo courtesy of Diane Steck.
Mr. Savu Waisake's fourth grade class from last year finally got their own copy of The Important Book about Majuro
! We did the project too close to the end of the school year, so as new fifth graders they received the fruits of their labors. It was very rewarding to read through it with them. We hope to create similarly rewarding experiences for 23 WorldTeach volunteers and their classes this year!Please donate so that other children can receive their own copies! You can purchase The Important Book about Majuro here on Amazon.com, but since the project receives not a penny from the sale of these books, we
ask that you donate separately to support literacy in the Marshall Islands!
Many thanks to Office Mart, Payless, EZ Price, and Copymasters for donating all the materials we needed! We also used the supplies from the first pilot project at Co-op, so thanks too to Ethel Nelson for providing those.
. . . as well as something extra for the classes. Good luck, WorldTeach volunteers!