Book drive raises over 400 books to send to China


Leily Zhu, Editor-in-Chief and Front Page Editor

We have grown up with books. Children’s books, fictional books, textbooks. Soon, hundreds of these books that used to reside in the homes of MN students will travel 6874 miles to China and take their place in educational centers halfway across the world.

Seniors Tori Qiu and Maddie Martin-Olenski organized a book drive to send boxes of books to China and Southeast Asian countries. They partnered with Bridge to Asia, an organization that donates books to teachers and students in China.

“We were helping my mom work in the library for the Omaha Chinese Center, and we didn’t have enough space in the room for all the books. We were talking about how we could have a project with books where we actually send them to China because we didn’t think people in Omaha would use all the books in the library,” Qiu said.

This book drive for China was organized as a Creativity, Action Service (CAS) project for Qiu and Martin-Olenski. The CAS project is an integrated requirement of the IB program, and it encourages the students to delve into the community and explore their interests.

“I’m really interested in it because Chinese culture is something that I’ve always found very interesting, and I always want to see if there’s some way I can help,” Martin-Olenski said.

For Qiu, there is a personal connection that prompted the idea to run this book drive to China, specifically.

“I feel good because it’s like you get to collect the books that are just sitting in people’s house, and that they wouldn’t be doing anything with. And then I get to contribute back to something that ties to my identity,” Qiu said.

Although she does not have the same cultural connection to this book drive as Qiu, Martin-Olenski is just as driven by her interests in the international world.

“The whole education barrier, like learning English and the interest you can find in these international communities that want to globalize in a positive way, has always been very interesting to me,” Martin-Olenski said.

The two IB students have been running the project independently, but they have received help from the librarians who are avid supporters of the project.

“I think anytime that we can advance literacy is a great thing, and I think whenever we can get our students to connect to the rest of the world in any way is very laudable,” librarian Stephanie Burdic said.

The project has two goals. Numerically, they hope to raise 400-plus books. As a moral goal, they hope to make an impact on English learning and access to language in China. They have reached their goal because of the donations made by the members of MN.

“Everyone in MN has been really willing to give so it just shows how generous our school is,” Qiu said.

The donated books range from children’s books to National Geographic to cassette tapes. Because Chinese education stresses multilinguality with the English language, each piece of reading material will be used in the educational sphere no matter the level of reading.

“I’m not sure it will be a massive contribution to the funding of books that they need to make the difference there, but the significance of even getting a single book is often reflected in a person’s life through their intellectual process and their intellectual journey, so I think when they receive these books, they’ll be excited to see that they have international prospects,” Martin-Olenski said.

A part of MN will reside in a foreign place 6874 miles away, contributing to the learning of students, one educational center to another. Through this project, Qiu and Martin-Olenski are building a bridge to China, one book at a time.