After two successful book drives, the African Student Association is ready to ship close to 4,000 books to Tanzania.
Electing new members to ASA, graduate student and former ASA president Prosper Zongo said the executive members were looking to plan activities for the 2016-17 school year.
ASA has 113 members, and Zongo said about 30 of them helped with the drive. They got the word out through social media and emails, he added.
Boxes were placed around campus in November, and books were collected until the end of the semester.
“We collected close to 4,000 books,” Zongo said. “The idea of Tanzania… was that we should send the books to a country on the continent that is an example. Right now, the new president (of Tanzania) is doing great work, is combating corruption, is fighting to improve education in the country. We thought there wouldn’t be any better place to help.”
Zongo said he found Books for Africa, an organization that would help deliver the books.
ASA public relations officer Diamond Hall said the group wanted the drive to be unique.
“(We wanted to) make a new tradition,” Hall said. “We learned about the literacy in Africa that’s needed, and that was our
Zongo said he “gives a lot of credit” to ASA member Christina Bushinger for helping spread the word. She had a lot of friends donate books, which Zongo said influenced others to donate, too.
“Anthropology Club… had so many books we didn’t know what to do with,” Bushinger said. “I thought this is a perfect opportunity to do something meaningful with them. I donated some books and from there it just snowballed.”
Zongo said the donated books were “a mixture” of textbooks and novels.
The books from ASA’s previous book drive, which started in May last year, were delivered to Kenya.
The ASA book drive brought in around 4,000 donated books.
“We were able to collect more than 2,500 books,” Zongo said. “Once we collected them, we all met again and wondered how we were going to manage to get these books
Books for Africa told ASA they would be responsible for taking the books to Minneapolis to be delivered to Kenya. With the money ASA collected from African Night, they took the books in two vans to Minneapolis.
The second drive doesn’t have a delivery date yet, Zongo said.
Zongo said ASA hopes to have these drives more frequently.
“After the first successful book drive, we decided it was something we can do every semester,” Zongo said.
Hall said the drive didn’t have a set goal.
“We just hoped for the best,” Hall said. “We wanted, of course, to have more books than last year.”
Bushinger said donating books “makes sense.”
“Students who have books that they don’t need anymore and will never need again, they can put them towards something meaningful,”
Hall said the book drive was an important experience.
“(I) always want to give back to the community and give others opportunities that most people, like here in the U.S., take for granted,” Hall said. “It’s something very new to me. It’s always good to experience new opportunities and do new things.”
Bushinger said she was glad to be part of the book drive.
“You’re able to donate something meaningful,” Bushinger said. “A lot of people in the U.S. don’t necessarily know what it’s like to not have the resources that we have, such as physical books. Education is something that’s so important. It’s taken for granted in the U.S. It’s nice that ASA can make an effort towards giving people resources that they might otherwise not have.”