OGLESBY — Their arrival was two years in the making, yet hundreds of textbooks collected by two, Illinois Valley Community College student organizations recently arrived in the Fundong Provence of Cameroon, West Africa.
Students and faculty of IVCC’s International Club and TEACH spent more than a year collecting textbooks for middle and high school-aged students at the Fundong Government High School. The project was the brain child of faculty adviser Amanda Cook Fesperman and former IVCC students Oliver Kah and Jacquelynn Hansen.
“Schools in Africa are often sorely underfunded,” said Cook Fesperman “Something as simple as textbooks we take for granted here in the United States are very hard to come by in many of these schools, especially those in the rural areas.”
Students often share textbooks, or learn through rote memorization, Fesperman said. The donation will make it possible for students to learn a wide range of subjects and improve their reading.
Kah, who is from Fundong, but who has gained permanent residency in the United States by winning the Visa Lottery, gives back to his people back home by doing projects like this. He is now studying social work at Bradley University.
In 2012, when Hansen, then TEACH president, learned of the project she immediately offered to help and the two student organizations worked to collect the books, raise money to ship them, and, through the help of IVCC chemistry instructor Promise Yong, ensured the books would arrive safely in Fundong.
In addition to sending books to Fundong, the International Club along with physics instructor Dominic Sarsah, has also been collecting and sending college textbooks to Cape Coast University in Ghana, West Africa, for almost 10 years.
Recently, the organization sponsored school fees for deserving students in two villages in Cameroon and will continue to help provide scholarships through a foundation set up by Yong, who also hails from Cameroon.
“This was such a wonderful opportunity for our students to make connections with students half way across the world, and to learn the value of education,” said Fesperman.
Fesperman, a political science instructor, hoped these types of projects continue at IVCC because it offers students a chance to help others while also learning about another culture.