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The Big Push


Day 3: All the organization and preparing led up to Saturday, which Susan called the “Big Push!” And holy moly, we worked so hard that day. The goal for the day was to make it through the fiction section of my library, which was a very large task.


Because we knew how much work we had to do, the four of us got up early and headed down to the school as quickly as we could. On Saturdays, my school is open because there is an extension program of the University of Panama that convenes on weekends.  This extension program makes higher education more accessible for the members of my remote community. As we worked, various university students and their kids poked their head into the library to see what we were up to . It made me excited because community members of all ages are eager about the resources in the library!


My thumb is still calloused from all of the hard work we did. I was very thankful for Susan, Rachel, Susana and One Library at a Time for their support on this day, because we got so much done so quickly. As a Peace Corps volunteer living in rural Panama, sometimes I have a hard time getting the information or support I need to complete my projects successfully. With the expertise of Susan, the experience of Rachel and the enthusiasm and patience of Susanna, the hard work was fun and engaging. Whoohoo! Goodness. I was writing cards frantically, checking my watch every few hours to monitor the speed of the progress.  I flipped through the cards with rapid fire, listing the pertinent information for each card: Author name, title, author, English language Spanish language, etc. . Goodness. And although the work was tough; our group was so supportive and approached it with the utmost cheer, chatting about embarrassing high school stories or funny travel experiences. I laughed through my pulsing hand.


The walk home from my school is very long and uphill. At the end of an exhausting day, the winding climb seemed even more challenging. About halfway to my house, one of my students, Zarideth, and her family were celebrating her 10th birthday, and invited us to join the party. Eager to relax and spend time with community members, we accepted their invitation. My community members’ generosity with their time and resources is one of the things I love most about living here. After a long day working in the library, the part was an extra special reward. The family served us the Panamanian delicacy arroz con pollo (chicken cooked with flavored rice and vegetables) and yummy vanilla birthday cake. We felt very welcomed and took lots of pictures with the family. We told the family that we were working on the school library, and they seemed extra excited to hear about this great upcoming resource.


While libraries serve as an important educational tool, they are also beneficial in building community. My hope is that my school library fosters social capital as much as intellectual growth. I am very thankful to Susan and One Library at a Time for all their generosity and help in aiding this project.