It is a snowy Tuesday morning here in Crimea, and we are in that week lull between the holidays of New Year’s and the Orthodox Christian Christmas on December 7th. Though it is a shortened work week, I am trying to be productive and am spending time thinking of the upcoming year and possible grants to fund library projects. In December, my partner at the library, Nadjie Yagya, and I submitted a draft proposal for a second SPA grant. Our first SPA grant (SPA stands for Small Project Assistance and is a USAID grant available to Peace Corps Volunteers worldwide) was a 2-day seminar in Simferopol in June of this past year on Crimean Tatar language and literature, and subsequent smaller seminars at twelve district libraries around Crimea, (see photos in previous blogs). We received many wonderful reviews from participants at those seminars and were encouraged to develop a proposal for a second SPA grant.
The idea for our second SPA grant came from a Peace Corps sponsored training Nadjie and I attended in August of 2009, soon after I arrived at my site in Simferopol. The training, which was held for three days in Kyiv, was titled “Volunteerism Strengthening as a Tool of Sustainable Grassroots Development,“ and focused on how to encourage volunteerism in our communities. At the training we learned about the history—or lack thereof—of volunteerism in Ukraine and were provided with successful strategies to recruit and manage volunteers. Nadjie came back from the seminar excited about the prospect of developing a project to encourage volunteerism in Crimea that would be spearheaded by the district libraries.
To put this project into action, we plan to organize a two-day training in Simferopol for librarians from the 23 central rayon libraries of Crimea, along with librarians from the four universities in Simferopol and also from some of the larger schools in the city. Participants at the seminar/training will be provided the information and tools necessary to assist them in organizing volunteer groups in their libraries and communities and to share with people the idea, as Nadjie expresses it in the grant application, “that volunteer work is not just working for someone else, but working for themselves, as it helps to solve the social problems that exist in our society.”
As a result of this seminar/training, we hope that the librarians will return to their institutions and organize “Friends of the Library” volunteer groups that are so common in American libraries and such a great help to them. Furthermore, in at least six of the communities represented, we will help the librarians organize a community-wide “Volunteer Day” to promote volunteerism in their region.
We submitted the first draft of the grant proposal in early December and with some revisions will submit the final proposal this month and will hear the first of February whether or not we receive the funding. The review committee was very encouraging, so I am optimistic that we will be funded. I will post the news on this blog.
The Volunteerism Training in Kyiv in August 2009. Pictured are Peace Corps Volunteers and their counterparts from organizations all over Ukraine. Nadjie and I are standing in the first row.