The SolarSPELL team traveled to Suva, Fiji in August to conduct a training of trainers. Teachers, Librarians, and Peace Corps volunteers from all over Fiji came to learn about the SolarSPELL digital library. Jude, an undergraduate student from the School of Politics and Global Studies, joined the SolarSPELL project in fall 2018 and traveled with the team to Fiji. The following is an anecdote from their experience:

When I first began working with SolarSPELL, I was a college junior at Arizona State University studying politics. At the time, traveling the world and making videos seemed like a pipe dream. Almost a year later, I can say that I have traveled making videos, and let me tell you, it’s the best job in the world.

My name is Jude, and I am SolarSPELL’s videographer. I recently went to Fiji with the SolarSPELL team to capture the implementation trip on camera. We spent three days in the capital city, Suva, teaching our new SolarSPELL family how to use the library. It was amazing to watch the participants explore the library for the first time. Their faces lit up when they first connected, and they only became more and more excited as they browsed the content.

In our training, I heard teachers and Peace Corps volunteers talk about teaching without the Internet, and librarians described traveling between islands to bring books to remote villages. The SolarSPELL will hopefully make their challenging jobs a little bit easier. Once they had connected, the teachers began envisioning new lesson plans and ways to enhance their curriculum. Peace Corps volunteers started talking about ways to teach English and incorporate library time with their students and community members. Librarians saw the possibilities for Fijians in all sorts of circumstances, from students reading digital textbooks in the city library to community members in rural villages downloading content from a traveling SolarSPELL. As Dr. Hosman says, with a SolarSPELL digital library, “the possibilities are endless.” Our workshop participants began to discover the many applications of the library, and it was not just my job, but my pleasure, to capture their reactions on film.

SolarSPELL creates these beautiful global connections. The initiative is not just about sending libraries around the world; it is so much more than that. The SolarSPELL initiative sent a student from Arizona to meet kids from Taveuni Island. It brought a library specialist to Suva so she could meet volunteers from Rhode Island and Oregon and New York in the middle of the Pacific. This project brings people of different cultures and backgrounds to share stories and learn from one another. Our time in Fiji was a celebration of learning, growth, adventure, and global connections. Thank you to our Fijian SolarSPELL family! Vinaka vaka levu.

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