South Africa Study Abroad

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The Global Links Library and Literacy Initiative

The Global Links Library/Literacy Initiative forms one of several service projects developed by Dr. Prudence Layne as part of Elon University’s winter term study abroad course to South Africa. The program establishes and or develops the resources of libraries in schools, crèches (nursery schools/kindergartens) and community centers in low-income areas in South Africa, the United States, and any other region that asks for our help. In 2010, the program joined forces with the “It Takes a Village” tutoring program, another service-learning project created by Dr. Jean Rattigan-Rohr, a professor in the School of Education. Together, It Takes a Village and The GLLC are designed to: improve literacy and the love of reading; foster cross-cultural understanding among constituents through a global book club and reading program; promote libraries as centers as central to community development and the cornerstones of democratic ideals; offer tutorial and technological support to librarians, struggling readers and their families; and provide students with virtual and mortar-and-brick environments through which they can create and share original artistic pieces, such as poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and other original works of art.

The program began in 2007 at the Ekukhanyisweni Primary School in Alexandra, South Africa and the Mayco Bigelow Community Center/North Park in Burlington, NC, and has expanded to include other community partnerships with elementary, middle, high schools, and universities in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ghana, Haiti, and South Africa. The program is implemented in three phases.

Phase I: Work with community partners to establish or develop age-appropriate reading lists, materials, guidelines and schedules of readings. The goal is to stock each library with copies of the recommended texts, and to offer guided discussions of the texts via the program’s blog located at for readers, who may also use the blog to share their creative writing and unique cultural perspectives based on these reading experiences.

Phase II: Secure sustainable funding and partnerships for establishing and developing books and technological resources at the recipient library. The goal is to purchase computer equipment, software, or other materials for the facilities to build readers’ technological literacy.

Phase III: Work with program librarian to develop programs and promote the library resources through reading groups, forums, and homework tutorial services. The goal is to provide homework helpers. reading partners, tutorial services, and strategies to help struggling readers succeed at home and in the classroom.

This transcontinental, multicultural, literacy initiative attempts to bridge the disconnection between what students learn in the classroom to the real world, other cultures, and their own realities.

Student Outcomes:
The program is designed to:
• create a positive atmosphere in which literature is used to improve reading competency and literacy
• get families to read together
• link students from different countries to share opinions and views
• foster multicultural awareness and understanding through literature
• increase communication among students around the globe about crises, events, and lifestyles in other areas of the world
• develop student technological competencies with computers, software, and learning tools like blogs and the internet
• prepare students for the 21st century
• foster friendship among students of similar ages in various countries and communities
• help students accept differences and find commonalities with others
• demonstrate the power an function of literature to change oneself and the world

Community Outcomes:
The program is designed to:
• increase patron usage at the recipient library
• develop libraries as agents of community development and sites of democratic values
• improve literacy and reading competencies among elementary, middle school, and high school student participants in the program
• bridge the gap between institutions of higher learning and local and global community partners

To learn more about how you, your school, organization, or agency can join the program, or to make a donation towards a SASA project, visit the “Opportunities to Collaborate” section of the program website.  


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Prudence Layne, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English &
Coordinator of African/African-American Studies

2338 Campus Box, Elon, NC 27244
Phone: 336-278-5618 • Fax: 336-278-2014