Library camp-out calls for action

Live-in for Literacy, in its ninth year this week, features Harry Potter-themed events

Emily Falhgren, Teresa Liu and Amelia Zheng in front of their tent.
Emily Falhgren, Teresa Liu and Amelia Zheng in front of their tent.

In another life, Amelia Zheng says she would have been a child in need of a literacy program.

It’s her family background that motivated her to camp out in the Stauffer Library lobby for Live-In for Literacy, a fundraising effort for the literacy organization Room to Read.

“My grandparents were farmers in rural China, so I’d probably have benefitted from a program like this before I immigrated here,” she said.

As a second-generation university student, she now feels removed from the Chinese countryside, she said, but literacy is still a cause that resonates with her.

Queen’s Discovering the Reality of Educating All Minds (DREAM) started their Live-In for Literacy campaign in 2005, when two Queen’s students camped out in a car outside Stauffer for a week.

This year, Zheng, ArtSci ’15, and Emily Falhgren, ArtSci ’15, members of Queen’s DREAM, will live in a tent in the Stauffer lobby for a week.

According to Queen’s DREAM, the international organization Room for Reading funds the construction of schools and libraries, publishes children’s books in various languages and holds literacy workshops.

The organization operates in 10 countries across Southern Africa, South Asia and South East Asia.

Zheng said sleeping in Stauffer isn’t too uncomfortable, although it has affected her sleep schedule.

“We wake up at really odd hours, actually, and the ground feels harder every day,” she said.

However, the lobby is coldest during the day, and becomes much warmer at night, she added.

Unlike past years, the event now features daily events and will be Harry Potter-themed. The daily events include a raffle, a photocampaign and a movie screening.

Falgren said students will vote to decide which Harry Potter movie will be screened in the lobby on Wednesday night.

The event has spread to York University, the University of Ottawa and the Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto, which are also running Live-In for Literacy events this month.

She added that she and Zheng will be taking breaks to attend their classes, but otherwise will be at the tent for the entire week.

The club hopes to break $1,000 this year, she said. The event made approximately $500 last year.

The raffle, where prizes include a Harry Potter film set and gift cards, will take place at the end of the week. Their donation system, she said, is based on the Hogwarts houses.

“At the end of the week what we’ll do is the house with the most donations, those raffle tickets in that house will be entered to win the movie set and other gifts,” she said.

Teresa Liu, one of the co-chairs for Queen’s DREAM, said the event has changed greatly since the first time.

“They actually didn’t have that much cooperation with the libraries,” Liu, ArtSci ’15, said.

“They had a van, parked it in front of Stauffer, and that’s what they did for the first live-in.” Since then, the group has coordinated with the library to run the event indoors.

For her, literacy is important because of the freedom and opportunities it brings, especially for girls in Southern Asia and Africa.

“Often their families will decide for them who they will get married to, marry them off and their lives are just bringing up kids,” Liu said.

Just being able to read helps them access numerous resources that remain off-limits otherwise, she said.

“Even if they just finish high school, they can read and access a lot of government resources, help their families, keep them healthy, that kind of stuff,” Liu said.

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