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Dublin High School’s New Room to Read Club and Literacy Mentoring Program

January 2, 2014
Alicia Tran with student

Alicia Tran with student

Ever since I was little, I would try to get my younger brothers to sit down and listen to me as I played pretend teacher. Although they never quite listened, it became my aspiration to become a teacher in order to educate others. My dream was first inspired by my parents’ limited education. Both of my parents immigrated from Vietnam and attained a minor education, a high school diploma. Having witnessed their struggles from their limited education and professional background, I knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives so that others wouldn’t have to go through the similar burdens that my parents went through.

In my sophomore year my Advanced English teacher Ms. Vallejo introduced the class to an autobiography, “Kaffir Boy” by Mark Mathabane. This autobiography opened my eyes to the immense poverty and injustices found in underdeveloped countries. Kaffir Boy describes the story of Mathabane’s life during South Africa’s apartheid. Mathabane reveals his devastating childhood in South Africa’s most desperate ghettos where frequent police raids and bloody gang fights seemed to be the inevitable future. Mathabane endured a degrading school system and the loss of inalienable rights. In addition, he was the victim of a corrupt government, discriminating prostitution, extreme violence, and painstaking hunger at a young age. Despite the lack of opportunities during South Africa’s apartheid, Mathabane obtained the courage to turn his fate around by working hard to learn English and achieve a good education. He even illegally played tennis with white professional tennis players. Through his perseverance and passion, Mathabane achieved an American college tennis scholarship to Limestone College in North Carolina.

I couldn’t help but be motivated by my parents’ and and Mark Mathabane’s perseverance  during their struggles with a limited education. I decided to make a profound impact on those less fortunate by founding a new club at Dublin High School called “Room to Read” which is part of a non-profit organization that promotes worldwide literacy. Funding is used to provide educational opportunities in the form of books, schools, libraries and scholarships to children in impoverished countries such as South Africa, India, Vietnam, Tanzania, Cambodia and Nepal. Room to Read also promotes gender equality regarding education. My goals for the club’s first year at Dublin High are to raise awareness about worldwide illiteracy and gender inequality regarding education, give back to the community, and achieve donations towards Room to Read.

Although the United States is not an impoverished country, every child deserves and truly requires a good education. Thus, I founded a local literacy mentoring program called “Read to Me!” where motivated, friendly teen volunteers meet with children seeking to improve their readings skills. The purpose of “Read to Me!” is to provide underprivileged children the opportunity to succeed in school. Mentors of “Read to Me!” aim to be positive role models by encouraging children to pursue a high education with the notion that learning can be fun. Local teen volunteers can obtain community service hours while developing the priceless feeling of helping a child’s eyes shine brightly with pride after overcoming reading obstacles.

The literacy mentoring program “Read to Me!” is very fortunate to be supported by the Alameda County Library. The manager of the Dublin Library, Lee Jouthas was especially delighted about the program since the Library does not have a Book Buddies program at this time. All literacy mentoring appointments are located at the local library’s Children’s Area but is not a Library program. Dublin High’s Room to Read Club has helped many Dublin families so far with regards to literacy mentoring. In addition, “Read to Me!” has led to many generous donations from parents. As of right now, $300 dollars have been donated to Room to Read.

It is a heartwarming feeling to lead the Room to Read club in providing educational opportunities to children who are less fortunate. If you or anyone else you know of in the community are interested in taking part in Dublin High’s Room to Read literacy mentoring program, please contact the Room to Read Club at  gaelsforglobaleducation@gmail.com. If you would like to donate to the Room to Read Club and its desire to host a community screening of Girls Rising, an empowering documentary about nine girls’ struggles with gender inequality and a minimal education in impoverished countries, please contact the email address above. To donate towards the nonprofit organization Room to Read, please visit Dublin High’s Room to Read Fundraising website.

For more information regarding Room to Read, please visit www.roomtoread.org.

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