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Karen Chun: Hoi An Library
The following article was recently published in the Volunteers for Prosperity Annual Report 2006.
Karen Chun has many years experience as a teacher and librarian. She has volunteered in Vietnam for 10 weeks during each of the last three summers with the nonprofit Degenhardt Foundation. Last year, with the help of fellow teacher and librarian Susan Smith, Chun raised funds to develop a library in Hoi An. They also created a club to attract the interest of local children in reading books from the library.
As a volunteer in Vietnam for the past several summers, Chun noticed the avid interest shown by the young people of Hoi An in the local youth center's relatively few books. Any new book was rapidly read and passed around. Unfortunately, most of the books left by the volunteers were in English, and the young people only read in Vietnamese. On her return home to Hawaii, Chun and another librarian, Sue Smith, were determined to change the situation. With the help of students in Hawaii and Disney Company grants, they were able to raise funds to begin a library.
When they returned to Vietnam, Karen and Susan helped form a library club with children from the Hoi An Orphanage and Hoi An Street Center. The library club members helped prepare activities and ready the book collection for the January 2006 opening of the Degenhardt Library, the first free public library in Hoi An.
Pictured here are Karen Chun and Susan Smith (second and third from right) and members of the library club taking part in ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Degenhardt Library in Hoi An, Vietnam.
The library is open six days a week until 7 p.m. with assistance from the library club. Chun and Smith provided training in book maintenance, simple circulation and book maintenance, simple circulations and book-care procedures, and storytelling. Library club members hosted a storytelling festival during Global Youth Service Day in April 2006. Each member read to the younger children of the community—including the poor and the boat children of Hoi An—so that they would feel comfortable coming to the library.
From the apparent enthusiasm of the 75 youthful participants, the event was judged a success. Chun said, "Susan and I are excited and continually motivated by the stewardship of the library shown by the young library club."
To read more about this project, visit our Volunteer story about Karen Chun.
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Vietnam Photo Journal
by Don Funk