By Julia Taliesin
The thousands of books collected by the late Professor Len Mailloux’s Globalization on a Shoestring class will all be sent off by the end of this semester.
After his passing in November, Mailloux’s students rallied to finish this project. The Simmons radio station, The Shark, hosted a successful pledge-a-thon in December to raise the money needed to ship the books across the country to the home of Paul Freedman, the Emmy-award winning filmmaker spearheading this project on the U.S. side.
The books, along with other supplies and educational technology, are being collected in large shipping containers, which will eventually be transported to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and used to build the library structure.
The initial plan was just to build a modest, traditional lending library, but the project has now grown to include a technology center, screening room, café, learning garden, and multiple classroom spaces. While this will take much longer to accomplish, involving experts in sustainable construction and necessitating more funding, the result will be completely unique to the region, a shining beacon of hope in a place without any accessible public education.
This library, now named the Lumumba Children’s Library and Learning Center, is being built in Goma, a city in the eastern region of DRC. The eastern region, located across the country from the capital, has long been a site of violence and conflict.
While the DRC constitution guarantees every child a free education, rampant corruption means the government has not followed through on this promise for many years. Learn more about the project at www.congolibrary.org.
While Simmons’ direct involvement is drawing to a close, Mailloux’s spirit is still very much alive in this project. It was Mailloux’s empathy and tireless passion for global learning that first brought Simmons students on board. Freedman remembers Len fondly as being excited for this project “in its absolute infancy” and believes he would have continued to support its success.
For that reason, Freedman has confirmed that a space in the library will be named for Mailloux. The children of eastern DRC might not have known Mailloux, but Simmons students will be heartened to know that his name will live on in a space that promotes so much of what he stood for: global perspectives, critical thinking, education, and, of course, communication.
There is still work to be done in packing up boxes and delivering them to the Simmons Copy/Mail Center. If you would like to be a part of seeing this project through to the end, please contact Dannie Annecston (firstname.lastname@example.org).