Jessica Odoom

I am 16 years old and I have been a part of Books & Beyond for two years. I am currently a junior at Newark Collegiate Academy, a charter school in Newark, New Jersey, that is part of KIPP, the Knowledge is Power Program. KIPP is a national network of free college-preparatory schools which prepare students in under-served communities for success in college and in life. There are currently four TEAM Schools in Newark that serve under KIPP. All TEAM Schools start school around 7 am and end at 4:15 pm. The school year starts in August with a summer-school portion and continues all the way through the middle of June.

I decided to become a member of Books & Beyond my freshman year of high school because I saw it as an opportunity to help make a change in the lives of people whom I had more than.

Since I was born in Ghana and came to the United Sates at a young age, I am aware of how difficult it is to adapt to change and to have to learn to speak English, which must be the same for the kids in Rwanda. English isn’t a language that you can learn overnight. It takes time, patience, and the best tools. There are difficulties along the way such as not understanding what you are learning or not being familiar with many of the words.

Something in Rwanda may mean something very different in the United States and, when the word is being taught in English, it can be a bit confusing. But, with the right tools I believe these obstacles can be conquered. The tools that we, as members of Books & Beyond, are giving to students in Rwanda are our books, which we have taken the time out to write. We have spent weekends and nights working with college students to perfect these books so that someone in another country might use them to understand English with just as well as we can.

As I continue to be a member of this project and write stories, I often remember how difficult it was to learn English for the first time when I was a child.

From being a part of Books & Beyond I’ve gained new friends and the understanding that not everyone gets things handed to them. If you really want something, you have to work for it, just as the kids in Rwanda are working to learn English.


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