Allison Jacobs, Escanaba, began serving in the Peace Corps last year. The daughter of Paul and Paula Jacobs of Escanaba, she is currently in Ajloun, a farming village in Northern Jordan.
“For the next two years, I will work daily at a girls’ youth center focusing on leadership development, health awareness and English comprehension with the aim of bettering the girls’ future chances for success at the university level and beyond,” Jacobs said in an e-mail.
Jacobs said learning English is important “in a country that depends so much on tourism and that is increasingly feeling the effects of an international economy.” According to Jacobs, the unofficial unemployment rate in Jordan is 30 percent.
“The next generation must be better educated and prepared to compete for jobs in this nation’s economy as well as to participate in an increasingly global society.”
Jacobs is hoping local residents will donate books she can use to help teach English.
“I would greatly appreciate it if you as a community could please look through your old children’s and pre-teen books at home that may be sitting unused on a shelf or boxed up somewhere,” Jacobs said. “Perhaps talk to your children about how giving up a book or two they have read over and over again could help youth in another country gain a fair chance at an education and a career. I am looking for English books of all levels but preferably first to eight grade reading level.”
Jacobs said she lives in a very religious Muslim village. She is asking people who donate books to check for inappropriate content. Any books with mention of alcohol or promiscuous activity cannot be placed in the library. Additionally, in Jordan religious conversion away from Islam is forbidden, so do not send any books with religious content.
“Books that show the diversity in America or globally and that celebrate history, culture, or the arts would be greatly appreciated,” Jacobs aid. “While learning English is the primary goal of this library, books can be a great tool to show these girls the world they may never see. Your help in this book drive will also serve to teach the girls at my youth center that kindness and love can cross any number of cultural boundaries.”
New or used books can be dropped off until Feb. 8 at the Jacobs Smile Center, 429 S. Lincoln Road, Escanaba.
Jacobs hopes to create a library at the youth center she serves.
“What my community here in Jordan has in spirit and potential, it is lacking in resources,” Jacobs said. “The level of English language comprehension, speech and writing is very low, and the resources they have to learn from are limited. And while my community in Jordan has had nothing but an open door for me, they do not have the financial resources to provide their own with an extensive library — not of Arabic materials and certainly not of English sources. I ask for help from my home community in assisting me in my English Book Drive for my youth center.”