“Salim (second from left) with his host family(first and last) and his host brother (second from right) who was also an exchange student from Germany.”
Salim is a 17 years old young man who had attended Liberty Charter High School last year as a foreign exchange student on a scholarship program called Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study. He was one of the He was born and raised in Kenya. After his 10 months of foreign exchange experience in the U.S. he is now back in Kenya and going to a boarding school. During his time in U.S. he learnt from Americans and taught a lot to them. He completed approximately 150 hours of community service last year and loves to help others. He had such a great experience during his exchange year, yet you can still hear people talking about him in his host community, Nampa, and his high school. He was a good student. He is a great person with his big heart.
When he went back home things were not so easy to adjust for him because he fit in the U.S. culture so well. He had a little bit of reverse culture shock when he went back to Kenya. So he decided to take advantage of the things he learnt while he was in the U.S., get over his culture shock and help his community in Kenya. As he realized that youth doesn’t have a conducive place to study, find sources for their homework or researches he started to think about opening a library in his village. He went ahead and talked to his mom about this idea. She told him that it is a great idea. He asked her about where possibly he can open a library. His mom knew of an organisation that was constructing a building on public land. His mom went to elders and asked them if they could share some part of the building with Salim for his library. They said they would love to do that for him and they gave him a big room that he can use. So Salim went and talked to them in more details and started to think about everything he needs. Then he started to share his idea with people in his village. Everyone was so excited about having a library, especially young students.
Now, it has been about ten months since he started to put ideas together around his opening a library dream and the place where they will let him start his library is just about done. However, he is in need of some help to actually open it to public. He needed shelves to put the books on and his friends in his village offered help to him. They are still working on getting enough shelves to put in the library. He also found some books to put in the library but he feels like it is not enough to start a library with. His friends gave their old books to him for him to be able to start his library, too. He also needs some chairs and tables to create a quiet studying space for students. His host mom, Louise Lough, who Salim is still in touch with, has been collecting books to send him since he shared his idea with her. She started collecting books for him from her church. She also got some donated books from Liberty Charter High School. She has about 10 boxes full of books which also includes many American classics that will help students in Kenya learn more about a different culture. She has dictionaries and encyclopedias that will be helpful for students’ research projects and homework. Although everything looks like it is set, there is one big problem. She cannot send the books to him because it costs to much for her to be able to afford it on her own. She had been asking some companies and people for sponsoring the shipment but she couldn’t find one yet. As soon as Salim has enough books, he will open his library but he is still in need of more books.
Salim has been telling people that 10 months he spent in United States changed his perspective about many things. His effort to help people and the time he puts in it is amazing! He is finishing up his high school education in Kenya and thinking about coming back to United States for his college education. His motivation inspires many people. If he started this library, it would help him reach out to more people and inspire them. He is already so excited to see his dream come true and he truly believes in it.