Over the course of four months, English Language Fellow Abigail Bruhlmann and Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Gabrielle Kelenyi worked together to organize a book drive to benefit students and teachers all over Panama who have limited access to reading materials. Bruhlmann and Kelanyi received book donations from residents of Panama City, and organized a crowdsourcing campaign to purchase books locally in Panama. They also received funding from the U.S. Embassy to purchase Spanish-English dictionaries designed for English language learners, children’s picture books, and graded readers. The two teachers designed workshops to complement the materials so that the teachers receiving the materials would have guidance on how to use them effectively.
To ensure that the donated books will be put to immediate use, Bruhlmann and Kelanyi connected with Peace Corps Volunteers all over the country of Panama. Not only will the Peace Corps Volunteers receive the donated books at their host institutions, they will also develop reading programs and deliver the workshops designed by Bruhlmann and Kelanyi. Thousands of students and hundreds of teachers at eight different schools and community libraries all over the country of Panama will benefit from the more than 1,000 books collected.
The goal of the book donation project was to provide high quality reading materials, reading programs, and teacher education workshops for teachers in order to foster a culture of reading in in the classroom. Strong literacy skills will help both students and teachers achieve their future educational and professional goals. Though Abigail’s fellowship is now over, the partnerships created during this book drive between the Fulbright ETA program and the Peace Corps will ensure its ongoing success and impact.