To be able to make a change, one must be convinced and passionate about what one is doing or plans on doing in the future. My passion is reading and by reading I mean enjoying great books not just for the knowledge you’ll gain but also for the pure joy and thrill after finishing one. I strongly believe that books can be an inspiration to all of us, especially artists and designers, on our journeys. We don’t see a lot of people reading nowadays and that makes me disappointed that we’re not appreciating the presence of books as much as we should. I’ve been tagged with all sort of names, and bullied with all sorts of labels from “Bookaholic” to “Goldy” to “Fanatic”. And I always wonder why can’t people name me “Educated” instead of “Nerd”, why can’t I be “Passionate” instead of a “Bookworm”? In fact, I became a book addict recently thanks to an awesome book that I randomly chose from the duty-free shelf to kill my time on the plane. I regret not being attached to reading before. This is why I aim to change the fact that the library in VCU is where we do everything but read and to alter the fact that being a bookworm is a shame. Therefore, my change plan is based on raising awareness of reading. I do believe that if we put the effort into our passions, we can get great things out of them. And I’m hoping that, through this project, I will be able to see the difference I made and the trace that I’ll be leaving on this planet.
When I went to Europe, I came across something very interesting and thoughtful. I found stacks of used books in the most crowded spots like bus and metro stations, sitting on the floor and available for anyone who is interested in reading. I do believe that this small gesture is significant mainly because it encourages the wanderer to take one and read. Another thing I read about was the “Wandering Books” (Luz). As the name mentions, these are books that travel from place to another. The reader takes this book from the place he finds it and leaves it in a random place for another reader to take. The people who come across these books can log in on a website and leave some feedback or locate where they found the book. The idea that reading and knowledge can connect the people from all around the world is what I strongly believe in and aim to achieve through this journey. In addition to this, I contacted a professor in VCUQ who offers a “School-wide Reading Program” (Fetherston) and supports reading for pleasure. Every semester, this program offers free books for everyone to read and the books chosen always have an inner meaning that students in this specific region can relate to.
Role of Art
Being in an art school, our target is basically to create and find what is new. To be able to do so, first we must be inspired by what has already been done, what has already been thought of. I consider books as our main inspiration, the place where we can travel in time and space to find the answers we want to know. Since there are no boundaries or limits for one’s imagination, words can be our tool to connect the imaginary world to our pieces of art. And since in every project or plan we make we have to communicate our work with others, we have to be able to deliver it the best way we could. For this change plan, art and design are going to be the tool that I will use to spread awareness and urge people to think about the importance of reading and knowledge in our daily life. I am hoping that students will take notice of the meanings hidden in the posters I will spread around the university and appreciate the role of art in changing and highlighting the issues we are suffering from in our daily lives.
As part of the VCUQ community, my job is to find as many book addicts as possible, unite them in a “Reading Club” and organize some meetings and events related to books and reading in general. The next step would be raising awareness with the help of my peers. My responsibility, in general, would be to take the first step towards the students who share the same love of reading as me and from there, we will work as a group to make a change. If everything goes well with the awareness through the posters, we will move into the “Wandering Book” plan and distribute different books in different parts of Qatar Foundation. We will track the impact of these books on the students. The last step would be linking books to people. I do believe that this step is the main one mainly because it treats a highly important social issue: prejudice. We will try to distribute books without covers to people and see if they will take the challenge to read it, and avoid “judging it by the cover”. Books in this case become humans, and maybe, through this action, they will think twice before judging people and tagging others.
Plan and Timeline
In order to achieve my goals, I have set a plan that shows the short-term idea. Yet, this doesn’t limit my evolution and improvement in the future. I chose to start with a current timeline for mainly two reasons:
- To see how effective that plan goes in this specific region and environment
- Because it’s the end of the semester and we won’t be able to meet up during the summer break
|Wednesday 1st of April
|Research about topic and ask student’s opinions
|Tuesday 7th of April
|Meet with Professor Robin and discuss the plan
|Wednesday 8th of April
|Participate in the reading over summer program (with professor Robin)
|Monday 20th of April
|Presentation in front of VCU students and faculty to spread the word
|Wednesday 22nd of April
|Try to connect with other interested students/ faculty through the presentation
Because of the short time we had before the end of the semester, I was only able to communicate and share my idea with others but I got great feedback.
For my long-term plan, I will carry on with the idea of the coverless books and the Reading Club starting with Fall 2015 and will introduce new ideas that connect books to our social issues. My plan for the upcoming school year is the following:
|August – September 2015
|Meet up with professor Robin to set a plan for the book shelves in the lounge next to the cafeteria and make posters to highlight the idea
|October – December 2015
|Start the “Reading Club” with the support of the Wide-Reading Program and meet up to set the goals and start the activities
|January – February 2016
|Introduce the coverless books during a VCU event
|March – April 2016
|Have a small celebration at the end of the semester to share ideas and the successes.
As for the future, I’m hoping that I will be able to open a library in Qatar that engages the students in reading for pleasure and offers them a space where they feel comfortable and glad to be in.
What’s more important than starting a change plan is achieving it and seeing the results. This is what makes the planner even more enthusiastic and encourages them to keep on dreaming and aiming for new goals. For the issue that I’m considering, the outcomes will be the number of dedicated members in the Reading Club first. Then, it will be the relevance of the posters for the audience and how much they pay attention to it. Next, it will be their participation in reading and the amount of books taken off the “counters” where we will be placing them. Also, we might ask the readers to leave some sort of feedback on the back of the books and share their experiences with us. But for me, one of the biggest outcomes would be sharing my love and passion for reading with other bookworms and opening people’s eyes on the fact that books are a treasure and we must protect it before it’s gone.
Fetherston, Robin. Email. 4 April 2015.
Luz, Tiago. “Wandering Books | A Conversation on TED.com.” Wandering Books | A Conversation on TED.com. Web. 5 Apr. 2015.
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