Thursday, February 23, 2012

Springboard Program Adds Rural China Literacy Project

Reader to Reader is delighted to announce the acceptance a new project to the Springboard Program, which brings Five College students into the world of non-profit work through the development and implementation of their own international or domestic literacy project. This program guides students through the entire process, teaching them the skills necessary to lead their own literacy project and giving them unparalleled leadership opportunity.

Catch in the Rye, created by Amherst College student Yi Lu (a.k.a. Louis,) will work with the abandoned children of migrant workers in rural China. Even by the most conservative estimate from government sources, more than 32 million children in China today will grow up without their parents. The absence of parents not only undermines the most basic safety and nutrition needs of children, but also takes a longer – and often unrecognized – toll on their self-expression and self-confidence. They are a generation that is forced to mature before their time.

Yet despite their lonely and loveless childhoods, these left-behind children can hardly find refuge in schools. Understaffed and underfinanced, schools in rural China emphasize rote learning and have very few books as intellectual nourishment in their reading rooms. As a result, many left-behind children, without essential literary and social skills, will abandon schools and join their parents in the cities once they become old enough to work, replicating another generation on the road. During summer, when school is in recess, even this thin layer of protection disappears. For these left-behind children, the season of bounty might as well be the barest.

Through the power of literature and participatory theatre, Catch in the Rye seeks to protect the innocence and joy of children who are left behind in the vast fields of rural China – just as Holden, the protagonist in J.D. Salinger’s novel Catcher in the Rye, would like to catch children before they fall from the rye field and become adults too soon. Using a variety of activities -- storytelling, improvisations, as well as other theatre games -- the project will engage children in interactive performances of literary texts by exploring their voices, bodies, and imagination.

Other Springboard projects include Beyond el Campo, which has built a public library in the rural coffee-farming village of Santa Cruz, Costa Rica; To Mother With Love, a women’s literacy school for the uneducated mothers of Ikenne, Nigeria, who sacrifice so much for their children; Hope of Haiti, sponsoring Haiti's children and teachers in areas devastated by poverty, as well as the earthquake; and Esperanza, a pioneer of special education programming in the Dominican Republic.

For more information on The Springboard Program visit

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