Kelly Forster of Barrow with her Romanian students. Forster is currently serving in the Peace Corps. Her stint in the volunteer program will end this summer. - Provided

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Barrow's Forster shares love of reading with Romanian youth

February 1st 4:13 pm | Hannah Heimbuch Print this article   Email this article   Create a Shortlink for this article

By April, Barrow's Kelly Forster will have been living and working in Romania for two full years. Forster is a Peace Corps volunteer, working as a secondary English teacher. As a person who finds both joy and challenge in the book world, she's tried to teach her students the same appreciation she has for reading.

Foster noticed that the local school had an outdated book collection. It features tomes from the Communist era, and Romanian classics at a level the young people at the school hadn't reached yet.

"I couldn't help but notice a huge hole in the library's collections," Forster said. "There were no new books."

Forster aims to change that, by gathering more than 200 new books to bolster the school collection. More than 600 students from two local schools will have access to the new additions, which will feature fiction and non-fiction at appropriate reading levels for local youth.

Popular titles like the Harry Potter series, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, and the Hunger Games trilogy has the kids excited to get their hands on the new books, Forster said.

The hope is that exciting stories and more choices will change how students think about reading and literacy, Forster said. With reinvigorated interest, she added, perhaps teachers and parents will follow suit and keep encouraging reading habits.

Forster said she's involved the school administration in an effort to continue the collection's growth after she leaves her post.

The project was funded in part by the Peace Corps Partnership Program, which supports the program's volunteers across the world. That support doesn't come automatically, however, and required Forster to contribute a minimum of 25 percent of the total cost, as well as outline the success and intent of the project.

They want to ensure the sustainability of the program in coming years, long after the volunteer has returned to his or her home country.

In Romania, Foster's students helped raise the seed money for their new book

collection. They held school-wide fundraisers to support the project.

"Books will no longer be solely associated with homework and boredom," Forster said, "but with interest and excitement.

Forster is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine. She is one of 43 Peace Corps volunteers currently serving in Romania. The Peace Corps was established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, and sends thousands of volunteers around the world each year. Volunteers work in more than 100 countries in the fields of agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth development.

Hannah Heimbuch can be reached at hheimbuch@reportalaska.com.

 

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