Since July 2013, the Traveling Library, the Entonces el libro Suitcase has been traveling free of charge to schools, libraries and museums throughout the Province of Cordoba, Argentina. We need help making 2015 possible. The Book: Entonces el libro
("So Then The Book") is a non-fictional account of my time with my Great-Uncle János, and his decision to reveal our family's identity after decades of secrecy. The reader is taken on a full color journey from Oregon to Argentina, to Transylvania, and beyond. Original letters, photographs and paintings entwine János’ testimony with my poetry to reveal a family’s identity whispered away two generations prior. The book originally came to life in English, as an artist's book, in 2006, entitled The János Book
. See http://www.transientbooks.com/alexappella/alexjanos.html
It was published in Spanish in 2012 in Córdoba, Argentina, entitled Entonces el libro. The Traveling Library:
Soon after the book was published in Spanish, teachers in Córdoba, Argentina began writing to me that they were using the book as a tool in their classrooms. Because of its non-traditional format (full color collage), and because of its content, it immediately became a versatile tool for educators. It has been used in a variety of subjects from History, to Literature, Anthropology, Methodology, Ethics, and more. Entonces el libro
is most regularly used to teach about discrimination, identity, immigration, oral histories, expression, World War II, graphic design and quite regularly, it is tied into teaching about the last military dictatorship here in Argentina. As if this weren't inspiration enough to me as an author, as a bookbinder I am enthralled to see how many schools naturally decide to make their own books that tell their story once they come into contact with this one.
I created Entonces el libro
for personal reasons. Seeing it organically turn into learning tool is exciting, and worth encouraging. It puts our family's experience as immigrants and as Holocaust victims and survivors into a perspective I had never imagined before.
After hearing from the first teachers, I had this vision of one teacher with one book, and the usual 30+ students. That didn't seem right. So I came up with the idea of a Traveling Suitcase that would equip teachers with 25 copies of the book, plus a study guide
. Thanks to sponsors, I was able to put together the first Traveling Library in July 2013. 25 copies of Entonces el libro began traveling from town to town by bus in a suitcase. In addition to the study guide the suitcase has a registry where each school documents their experience. In 2014, due to the overwhelming demand, I set up a second Traveling Library. There are now 2 suitcases traveling throughout the Province of Córdoba, totally free of charge. How It Works:
So far, schools, museums and libraries within the Province of Córdoba were able to use Entonces el libro
as a learning tool FREE OF CHARGE because each book has a sponsor. (However, the funds raised via sponsors the first year and a half have been spent on the numerous bus trips already made.)
Interested teachers are in touch with me, they reserve their dates, and I send them the Traveling Library by bus to their town. They have it for three weeks, and then send the suitcase back to me by bus. Most teachers and institutions find out about the Traveling Suitcase via Facebook or word of mouth. While I have not achieved formal support from the Ministry of Education, institutions such as DAIA, The Goethe Cultural Institut, and Generaciones de la Shoá have sponsored books. Most sponsors, though, are enthusiastic individuals and schools who are excited to see the project continue. Note: For now, the Traveling Suitcase is limited to the Province of Córdoba because of the logistics and costs involved. The Numbers:
Since the inception of the Traveling Libraries in 2013 and 2014, Entonces el libro has been a learning tool, free of charge, for over 1400 individuals in the Province of Córdoba, visiting over 40 different schools, museums and libraries for an average of three weeks. This amount of time gives them enough room to read the book, discuss it, and develop a project based on their experience. The students have ranged in age from 11 years old to over 80, with high school students being the most prevalent. It is rare that I personally know the teacher who reserves the suitcase. There seems to be a balance between the public and the private sector, both sides of the economic spectrum are using the suitcase as a tool. Once the suitcases hit the road, they travels non-stop until the end of the school year. That speaks mountains. How To Help:
The 50 original sponsors made the first two years of travel possible. But now I need to make 2015 a reality. In order for the two Traveling Libraries, the Entonces el libro
Suitcases to get on the road again, I need help with the following expenses:
--5500 pesos/u$s 634: for 22 round trips on the bus. Each suitcase will travel 11 times during 2015, spending 3 weeks at each location. The average cost of each round trip is 250 pesos.
--1500 pesos/u$s 172: for replacing 15 worn out copies of Entonces el libro.
--400 pesos/u$s 46: for contact paper used for protecting the books.
--200 pesos/u$s 23: for making photocopies of the study guides.
--100 pesos/u$s11.50: for packing tape y garbage bags. (The suitcases, for some reason, have to travel on the bus wrapped in large black garbage sacks.)
--100 pesos/u$s 11.50: for mobile phone calls made to teachers and schools for arranging the pick up of the suitcases at their local bus terminals.
7800 pesos TOTAL, approximately $900 US dollars. (The exchange rate can vary slightly from day to day.) Some of my favorite anecdotes:
I find it impossible to capture the magic of what is occurring with Entonces el libro
in educational settings. The photos here speak quite a bit (click the link next to the video up above). For the last year and a half, every three weeks when the suitcases return, before I send them off again, I am inundated with letters, responses, books, reports, and photos from the schools.
In the town of Bell Ville, a teacher at the School for the Hearing Impaired there was concerned that there were 25 books, and she only had nine students. So she organized the lending of the books to individuals in her community. That wasn't enough. She then organized an event with the local retirement home in which the hearing impaired students and the retirees read the book, exchanged experiences, and then all went together to the Immigrant Museum in their town . One enthusiastic reader even purchased a copy of the book for the local library.
At a public high school in Malagueño, the English teacher reserved the Traveling Suitcase. When she took it to the school, the entire teaching staff of the 4th and 5th year students took on the project, putting their regular curriculum on hold. So the students simultaneously used the book as a tool in History, English, Geography, Physics, Theater, and Life Skills, and then did a final presentation/project that combined all their different experiences.
At a night school in Córdoba for adults learning to read and write, for 14 of the students, Entonces el libro
was the first book they ever read cover to cover. There are literally hundreds of stories to tell, one more captivating than the next.
In the registry, nearly every school writes at the end of their experience with the book, “We hope the Traveling Suitcase continues!”
We really do.
Thanks for your help. Press, reviews and videos
about Entonces el libro.
See the study guide
Entonces el libro on Facebook
. The Traveling Library
If we don't reach the 100% of the funding goal, we will use it to do the following:
With the 10%
I will have help paying for some of the trips the Traveling Suitcases make on the bus.
With the 25%
I will have help paying for even more of the trips the Traveling Suitcases make on the bus.
With the 50%
I will have help paying for nearly all of the trips the Traveling Suitcases make on the bus, plus I'll be able to pay for making copies of the study guide that accompanies the books.
With the 75%
All the trips will be paid for, and I'll have help covering the cost of the replacement books, the study guides, and some of the other supplies needed to make it all possible. (Packing tape, garbage sacks, contact paper...)