Peace Corps Volunteer Expands Local Library to Improve English Literacy and Language Skills in China

April 10, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 10, 2015 – Peace Corps volunteer Kolter Kiess of Bucyrus, Ohio, is sharing his love of reading with more than 100 Chinese students and community members to help them improve their English language and literacy skills. Kiess and his local counterparts recently teamed up with an American non-governmental organization to raise money for more age-appropriate reading materials for their local library, which lies in one of China’s poorest regions.

“During my first semester at the school, I noticed the only books that were regularly checked out of the library were children’s books,” said Kiess, a graduate of Columbia University who has been living in China since June 2013.

The new library resources will include books of various reading levels, study guides, test preparation materials, literary classics from other countries, and an online resource center. A greater variety of reading materials will challenge students to improve their language skills, broaden their cultural awareness, and develop the competencies they need for secondary and vocational school.

“I’m kind of a geek about books,” said Kiess about his passion for the project. “The opportunity to further develop an appreciation, if not a love, for reading among my students makes me extremely excited.”

A portion of Kiess’ project is being funded by the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP), which supports Peace Corps volunteer projects worldwide. In order to receive PCPP funding, a community must make at least a 25 percent contribution to the total project cost and outline success indicators for each individual project. One hundred percent of each tax-deductible PCPP donation goes toward a development project.

Thanks to donations from his local community and abroad, Kiess expects the new library materials to be available by June 2015.

“I’m very fortunate that my school is and has always been amazingly supportive,” Kiess said.

About Peace Corps/China: There are 146 volunteers in China working with their communities on education projects. During their service in China, volunteers learn to speak Mandarin Chinese. More than 995 Peace Corps volunteers have served in China since the program was established in 1993.

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their service, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide. For more information, visit peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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