The spring exam period is four months away, but two first-year students have already set up camp in Stauffer Library at Queen’s University. They will spend seven days and nights in the library to increase awareness and financial support for global access to literacy.
“Volunteering with a program like Live-in For Literacy really enriches your time at university. It helps you grow as an individual by taking on responsibility for a major issue,” says Katia Davydova, who is camping along with Teresa Liu.
This year, 10 university libraries will temporarily house students during the same week in a national campaign, reaching from Memorial University in Newfoundland to the University of British Columbia.
Queen’s participants follow a long line of students and alumni who have supported the annual Live-in For Literacy campaign. Two Queen’s students founded the initiative in 2006 after seeing an advertisement about the cost of building a library in a developing country.
They reached their goal of raising $5,000 in the first year and founded Discovering the Reality of Educating All Minds (DREAM) to organize similar campaigns in the future. They also drew attention from the public, from the international literacy organization Room to Read, and from students across Canada who started participating in the event.
More than a dozen student volunteers support the Queen’s campers behind the scenes, from webcam specialist Jesslyn Cheung (LifeSci ’12) to the local chair of DREAM, Kat Manica (History ’12). Together these students bring a range of skills and academic backgrounds to the campaign, helping to shape the way it evolves and achieves its mission.
“The campaign is also about fostering cultural exchange between Canada and different countries,” explains Ms Manica. “It’s not about exporting Western ideas about literacy but supporting efforts to raise literacy in different communities that already have their own languages and cultures.”
Financial support in any amount is welcome, but supporters can also stop and talk with the residents and learn about the campaign. The student campers will be in the front entrance of Stauffer Library until January 26.
Supporters can donate online and follow the campaign by viewing webcam diary entries from library campers across Canada.
Release and photo: Queen’s University News Centre (caption: Volunteers with the Live-in For Literacy program set up the tent in the lobby of Stauffer Library)