By Ellen Busse
English Teacher and Adviser, Australian Volunteers International
The English Library and Resource Centre located in the College of English Language and Literature of Hexi University has become a general hub for English and international themed activities on campus. Rather than the old fashioned phrase, “Shhh! It’s a library!” We want people to talk to each other! The vision for our resource centre
is a place where students, Chinese teachers and foreign teachers can come together to share resources, ideas and interact in a lively English immersion atmosphere. Our resource centre is a place where people can improve their English and teaching skills through both formal and informal interactions and have a fun while doing so. This benefits not only the Hexi campus but also generations of students in the greater Gansu area who will be taught by Hexi graduates in the future.
This Library and Resource Center was originally initiated by some foreign teachers who came from different countries and taught English in Hexi Universtiy. Previously it was a small English library room with only two desks and some chairs and a limited number of books. (See photos below.) The library was used by some students and staffed by volunteer English teachers. Previous Foreign Volunteer teachers from Peace Corps, Amighty Foundation and others managed to secure some donations of books from overseas book charities and other funding sources. At the beginning of 2010 -2011 academic year however, with the funding obtained by Mosiah, the Volunteer from Peace Corps , we moved to a different space and have opened a much larger room for use as our English Resource Centre (See photos below). With the help of volunteer English teachers from around the world and 25 enthusiastic volunteer student assistants we have managed to encourage an increasingly large and varied group of students to attend each afternoon both to borrow resources and sit and chat to improve their English.
During the academic year 2010-2011 new volunteers have been recruited and trained in basic library running and also facilitating an English conversation environment. They have worked together with foreign teachers to protect our resources and create new ones to encourage conversation and fun interactions.
In addition, this year Ellen, the Volunteer from Australian, was successful in obtaining funding from the Community Grants Scheme from Australian Volunteers International for purchase of hundreds of new books and technological equipment such as computer, printer and other audio visual equipment to further increase the capacity of the centre.
Through the hard work and support of the student volunteers, foreign English teachers and their local counterparts we have created a very lively and welcoming centre for students and teachers alike to study and communicate in English.
We are keen to take advantage of the wave of enthusiasm shown by students toward using their new space and enable as many people as possible to take part in a variety of ways, be they casual chatting in English, personal study, or book club or other meetings and events. We are committed to our vision for the Resource Centre as a hub for students and teachers to interact, practice their English and explore foreign culture.
We believe that by continuing to boost our resources, train our volunteers and encouraging a wide variety of lively activities, our centre will go from strength to strength. We would like to thank all volunteers, the English Department, Hexi University staff and the greater community for all of their support and warmly welcome everyone to come and visit the centre on weekday afternoons.
With your support we hope to be able to build on our previous successes and utilize this space to have a greater impact in the lives of our students and the community.