Minnesota Peace Corps Volunteer Helps Open First English Language Library at University in the Country of Georgia

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 7, 2003 – More than 4,000 students at Gori State University in the country of Georgia will be able to learn the English language because of the work of Peace Corps Georgia volunteer Edward R. Raupp. Raupp, a native of Minnesota, recently helped establish the first ever English Language Library at the University with the combined help of community members, university faculty, fellow Peace Corps volunteers and returned Peace Corps volunteer groups.

Peace Corps volunteer Edward Raupp, left, helps prepare for the opening of the first English Language Library at Gori University
Peace Corps volunteer Edward Raupp, left, helps prepare for the opening of the first English Language Library at Gori University.
On October 20th, Raupp, Sharon Miles, wife of U.S. Ambassador Richard Miles, Peace Corps Country Director Norman Hickey; and Rusiko Tkemaladze, British Council and Head of the English Teachers Association of Georgia, unveiled the library at a formal ceremony. The library serves students at Gori State University and thousands of others who will have access through their affiliated school or university. Already, students have been utilizing the donated English language books for their studies.

“It\'s been a thrill for me to see students and lecturers coming to the library to do research in English that they just could not have done before,” said Raupp. “The people of Georgia are moving rapidly to adopt English as their second language, and the library will help in this effort."

Books were donated by Raupp, the Darien Book Aid of Connecticut, the Information Director at the American Center of Information Resources at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, and some of the University’s lecturers. More than 650 books were initially donated, but Raupp said that number continues to grow. In addition, the Minnesota Returned Peace Corps Volunteers group contributed a grant to help with shipping books and materials to the newly established library.

All of the funds used to build the library came from the local community. The efforts were headed by Raupp, his local counterpart, and the university Dean. Most of the labor required to establish the library was done by parents of the university’s students who volunteered their time and resources. Raupp and community members cleaned it, installed electricity and new light fixtures, (the library is the only room in the building to currently have electricity), and repaired the walls and floor in preparation for the opening. In addition, the group has applied for a grant to purchase a computer and a copier for students’ use at the library.

The first Peace Corps volunteers arrived in Georgia in May 2001. Since then, 80 volunteers have served in rural communities and towns throughout the country, where they offer and enhance English education for Georgian students and teaching methodologies for Georgian teachers. To ease the severe shortage of textbooks and modern teaching materials, volunteers help their schools to establish English language resource centers and collaborate with their counterparts to develop curricula. Currently, there are 50 volunteers serving in Georgia.

Since 1961, more than 170,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

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