Reading West Africa program 2012 - partnership between Santa Clara University and FAVL

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Every year Santa Clara University in California sends a group of exchange students to Burkina Faso through the Reading West Africa Program. The students spend time in the capital city of Ouagadougou, taking courses on Economics, French and Photography and getting to know Burkina Faso. Then, they trek out to the Houndé area in southwest Burkina Faso, where they each volunteer in a village where a FAVL library is located. During their stay in village, they become very familiar with village life. Each student chooses themes for 2 photo books, and all of the books are later published with the help of FastPencil.com.

This year, the Reading West Africa Program consisted of 6 students from the University. Two students each stayed in the villages of Béréba, Dimikuy and Dohoun for 6 weeks, and then returned to Ouaga to finish up their photo books for the last two weeks of the program. The students were sad to say good bye to the villages, but eager to get started on their books. Declan Malley, who stayed in the village of Dimikuy, decided to write Welcome to Dimikuy, a guide to life in Dimikuy, and a book about Burkina's elaborate tea-making ceremony. Both he and his village roommate, Ezequiel Olvera, commented that the ceremony helps friendships develop and it made it easier to ask awkward questions about cultural misunderstandings.  Ezequiel went in a different direction and wrote books about creativity and a trickster in Dimikuy. The second book prompted an interesting cultural discussion when Dounko explained that Ezequiel's original idea to write a book about a ghost in the library would stop people from coming there!  From her experience in Béréba, Lauren Falwell was inspired to write a book to teach kids how to count and another about what kids would like to be when they grow up. The other volunteer in Béréba, Erica Ward, created an alphabet book and another book about the old ward of the village. A theme for one of Dana Johnston's books is the life on "Main Street" in Béréba. Last but not least, Kat Brand wrote books about how to create origami birds and how to avoid colds during the dry season.

The students all learned a lot during their time in Burkina.  One student commented on how she really enjoyed the frequent rain that came in the last weeks of their village visit, but she soon realized that late this late in the season was bad for the harvest and could be detrimental to someone's livelihood. The students return to the United States with fond memories and new friendships as well as their new photo books which will help promote reading in the village libraries.

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FAVL Blog

Books, reading, and libraries relevant to Africa by Michael Kevane, co-Director of FAVL and economist at Santa Clara University.

Other contributors include Kate Parry, FAVL-East Africa director, Peace Corps volunteer Emilie Crofton, Krystle Austin, Elisee Sare, and Monique Nadembega.

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