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Vietnam Community > Hoian

Hoian library

Article: http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2007/May/22/ln/

Two West O'ahu public school librarians are making a world of difference, improving the lives of youths in three Asian towns while teaching their students here the meaning of living in today's "global village." The Building Global Libraries project set up by Karen Chun of Campbell High School and Susan Smith of August Ahrens Elementary School was recognized this year as one of the top 10 service projects in the nation by Volunteers in Prosperity, the agency established by President Bush to encourage volunteerism by professionals. It began three years ago when Chun was doing volunteer work for the Degenhardt Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and families in Vietnam. While working at the Degenhardt youth center in Hoi An, about 45 minutes from Danang, Chun learned that despite a large percentage of voracious readers, the town did not have what a typical American would view as a public library. Instead, as is common in most !
 Vietnamese towns, Hoi An had only subscription libraries where a user pays for a library card and puts down a deposit to borrow a book. Chun sprung into action. Degenhardt agreed to provide a large room in the Hoi An community center. In Hawai'i, Chun enlisted the help of Smith, whom she had befriended and collaborated when the two were at Barbers Point Elementary. The two won several grants sponsored by the Disney Co. and got students, primarily those in the Aces Interact Club from Campbell and the Ahrens library club, to recycle cans, sell tote bags and conduct other fundraising ventures. Several book publishers donated titles. More than $6,500 has been raised. "It's not as much as you think, but it can go a long way," she said. The money furnished and stocked the facility. Training has been provided for volunteers in book maintenance, circulation, book care and storytelling. The library is open until 7 p.m. six days a week. Chun and Smith spent their own money to!
  travel to Vietnam. But that's not all. "It costs us $130 a !
 month to
 run," Smith said. "If we're ever short, it comes out of our pockets." Joy Degenhardt, who oversees the Hoi An library, said the room has a simple layout with "about 1,000 books, some basic board games, playing cards and a few videos" but is busy all the time. "This library is the main meeting/entertainment center for community get-togethers," Degenhardt said. Joy Manaloc and Krysten Takahama, the two 17-year-old Campbell seniors who run the Aces Club, said the effort has made them gain a deeper appreciation for libraries and Vietnam. Takahama said the students also want to teach a lesson. "People don't view teenagers as being able to help others, but we wanted to prove we could give back to other people in other countries," she said. More recently, Chun and Smith have been seeking books to help beef up two libraries in Ilocos Norte, where many of Ahrens' students emigrated from. Some 6,000 English books, donated from nearly a dozen Leeward schools, have been shipped!   to Ruiz and Santiago, Smith said. Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at gpang@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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