Last week, we were honored to be asked to present the Chispa Project perspective on sustainable libraries at the XIII Jornada de Bibliotecología en Honduras (the XIII Conference for Librarianship in Honduras), where we connected with librarians, teachers, administrators, lawyers, and above all, people passionate about literacy and access to resources, from all across Honduras.
The answer? Each one is a tool that librarians can use to make information resources more accessible for the populations they serve. At its heart, a librarian's position is truly one of service, connecting readers and library users to the information they need to be successful. Whether success means translating a text to brail or to an auditory format, showing readers an app that can help them access the information that they need, or helping a reader to recognize valid sources of information, all are aspects of literacy and knowledge building.
Over the three-day conference, attendees learned about automating their library inventories, about different activities to engage the readers’ interests, about how Instagram can help connect with readers, about appropriate times to photocopy texts, how to create short user-friendly videos and so much more. But more so than anything else the conference was a reminder that until information is applied, it is data and nothing more. The job of the librarian is to facilitate readers in identifying, evaluating, and applying the information that they encounter so that it becomes knowledge and practice.
The Asociacion de Bibliotecarios y Documentalistas de Honduras (ABIDH) is a group of indvidiuals who see themselves as the gatekeepers to knowledge and learning for their country. They are confronted this year with two enormous tasks: combining traditional library norms with the technology focused demands of incoming readers, making information resources available and accessible to all students in Honduras. These leaders of schools and communities feel very much up to the challenges at hand, as they joked frequently throughout the conference "[Librarians] learned the advantages of sharing resources and working as a team far before many other professions." Adelante, equipo, to a Honduras with more libraries and more learning for all!
Today we said goodbye to Joey Torres, a pastor, friend, and third year PhD student studying the intersection of race and Evangelical Christianity at the University of California, Davis. Joey spent two months volunteering with us-- during which he slept in 10 different beds, visited towns and cities from coast to coast, took his first ferry ride, sat in on countless meetings, tried all of the food, and helped us bring children’s books to students in three different schools. Here Joey shares a list of his five favorite firsts that he experienced while here in Honduras:
1) Baleadas: You wouldn’t think baleadas would be as profound of an experience as they are. At their most basic, they are refried beans, a sprinkle of hard salty cheese, and crema (kind of like sour cream) folded into a thick flour tortilla. But, this simple little street food is a game changer. Maybe it’s the fold instead of the wrap. Maybe it’s the lard in the beans. Maybe it’s the fresh-off-the-grill tortilla. Who can tell. I haven’t let myself overthink it too much. I just simply enjoy. The first time I heard of these, I thought, ‘hmm. That’s a bean burrito,’ but no, my friends. It’s so much more.
2) “Cheque”: “Cheque” is go-to phrase for all Hondurans. It’s means “okay” and is the word I hear most. If I am being honest, I actually like the long version, which is “cheque leque panqueque.” It’s sort of like “okie dokie, artichokie,” but catchier. When you use it, Hondurans light up because they know that, not only are you speaking Spanish, you’re speaking Honduran.
3) Honduran coffee: It seems inevitable that I’ve had Honduran coffee before. However, coffee here is especially cultural. It’s like eating pasta in Italy, or eating green chile in New Mexico. The land, itself, offers the product in its best form. And Hondurans love their coffee. Each region believes its coffee is best, but it seems like none is better than Marcala, a city just northwest of Tegucigalpa. The coffee is well-roasted but not burned. It has a strong, fruity aftertaste, and it’s obviously very fresh. I can’t say that I’ve thought too much about the origin of my coffee, something of which I think many people from the US are guilty. Being here, though, and experiencing the love that Honduran farmers have for their coffee, has created in me a newfound appreciation for knowing the story.
4) Geckos: Honduras has a unique relationship with their geckos. And how could you not? They are in virtually every room of every living space with a window. I’ve seen them in kitchens, bathrooms, and in bed sheets. I can’t say I’m in love with them but I can say that I appreciate them. They remind you that the sun has set, that they’re hungry, and that there could be a lot more cockroaches and mosquitoes if I’m not careful.
5) Children’s books in Spanish: Admittedly, I hadn’t thought too much about spanish language books for kids across the world. It’s definitely something I’ve taken for granted in the educational process. However, seeing kids’ faces shine as they read you their favorite part of their favorite book is truly a gift. They’re also good for me as I have practiced my very elementary Spanish. I have loved being surrounded by their words and the great effect these books have on the kids here in Honduras.
Thank for for the laughs, the new experiences, and the memories, Joey. We miss you already!
...and all through the school, students showed off their new backpacks, trying to play it cool;
the books were placed in the library with care, in the hopes that la Famosa Lucia would soon be there;
the students then traveled from station to station, entering a new world full of books and imagination.
Located just north of Lago de Yoga, Honduras’ largest lake, lies a town called Rio Lindo, where you can find Eagles Academy, a small bilingual school with big personality.
The Honduran school year usually runs from February until November, but many bilingual and private schools run from late August until June, similar to schools in the US. This Monday, Eagles Academy celebrated the first day of the 2018-2019 school year with the inauguration of their new library, now complete with murals, posters, and new books to add to the growing collection!
Normally, when we inaugurate a library, we ask for teacher and parent volunteers to help us run our seven different literacy based stations, but Eagles Academy chose to call upon a group of their 10th graders to take on the leadership role.
We know what you might be thinking. “You put high schoolers in charge?!” And you would be correct; we put a group of capable, imaginative, and hard working high schoolers in charge of showing their young counterparts just how much you can learn from a book.
When we asked some of our helpers to tell us about their dreams, we received so many different answers. From teachers to biologists to graphic designers. Each one with special talents to share with the primary schoolers. Thanks to their support, the library inauguration was a huge success!
Congratulations to all of the students, parents, teachers, and community members in Rio Lindo who put in the hard work to make the inauguration day a success. Now, time to get reading!