Thanks to all who were able to join us
for the 2013 Fundraising Dinner!
Westminster in India
Wai is a rural community several hours inland from Mumbai. It is known for its beautiful temples. But even in the shadow of the temples, there are families living in slum conditions. Many schools in the area do not have desks, let alone books, computers or school libraries. They are filled, however, with enthusiastic teachers and students and are lucky enough to have a small community library committed to providing access to books and to fostering a love of reading in the students of the area schools.
Westminster College partnered with the organization Room to Read to get an initial shipment of bright and colorful books in English by Indian authors to the community library, the G.G. Jadhav Library. Library staff, in turn, have been taking collections of books to area schools and rotating those collections once a week- allowing their small collection of books reach more than 2500 children- a project called Bapu’s Library.
In May 2010, Westminster students went to India and worked with the local library to host a week-long reading camp with more than 40 village children ranging in age from about 5 to 12 years. The school kids were excited to come to the community library, even during their summer break, for the chance to work on reading and writing with American college students.
In August 2011 and August 2012, Westminster students again went to Wai. These students led children at the Tarkateerth Laxmanshastry Joshi School in English language comprehension and conversation class sessions, they helped the G.G. Jadhav Library staff to process books for the Bapu’s Library project, participated in several events for community readers such as poetry recitation and book club discussions and worked with library patrons and families at the Akshar Institute, a school for children with developmental disabilities, to collect and publish stories. These students also raised and donated funds to add more books to the Bapu’s Library project.
Westminster College was also responsible for the acquisition and administration of a $5000 Rotary grant to bring much needed technology and additional shelving to the G. G. Jadhav Library in August 2011. In the early fall of 2012, Westminster's Professor Emeritas, Carolyn Jenkins spent several months leading teacher development workshops and discussions in and around Wai. To learn more about Carolyn's work, visit her blog at: http://waiindia.wordpress.com/
With the help of generous donors, this year, Westminster has begun the India Fellows program. College students work on projects in support of the Westminster in India Program. They develop instructional materials for their peers on language and culture topics, they take lead roles in establishing the nature and design of a research project in India or work on fundraising and planning efforts. Through their work they earn cost deferments for travel, making the experience possible for students without the resources to participate otherwise.
This summer, another group of Westminster students will visit Wai. They will again work in the classrooms at the T.L. Joshi School and on projects at the G.G. Jadhav Library and Akshar Institute. This year, students will also work on a community research project that will result in photographic exhibitions and community conversations.
How You Can Help
The project’s greatest need is the donation of unrestricted funds. Monies raised will be spent in India for books, computers and other project supplies and on fellowships for student travel to India for this and other service learning projects. Donations can be made by check, please contact Marc Weyerstall at (801) 832-2739 or by email at mweyerstall (at) westminstercollege.edu for more information.
Robin Hill (2010 graduate) went on one of the first Westminster trips to Wai, check out his video reflection here.
Contact Diane VanderPol, Giovale Library Director at 801.832.2270 or by email at dvanderpol (at) westminstercollege.edu.