English Books for Poland

Helping underprivileged children in Poland learn English!

Photo of Zofia Kierner
8 3

Written by

Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

November 2002

Where are you located:

My Location: Woodinville, WA, USA
Impact Location: Many locations mainly in Lodz, Poland

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Website: https://zofiakierner.wixsite.com/wordsofwisdom

Date Started

September 2012

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

I am Polish, however before coming to the US I lived in Finland for 6 years. Even though I went to the International School in Helsinki, I had contact with my neighborhood school in Poland. I visited this school once during the summer and talked with the students and teachers. By doing so, I found out how challenging it is for them to learn English (or other foreign languages) in an unnatural environment and I understood how lucky I am to learn English (a world-wide language now!) from first-hand experiences. It became clear to me that it is tremendously important to have access to practical tools that help learn.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Over 1.5 Billion people around the world speak English which leaves over 6 Billion that don't speak the language even though it is a crucial skill in the modern world. So many do not know the language even though it is tremendously important when travelling, studying abroad or getting a good job. Children in Poland DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO RESOURCES. Books in English are so expensive! If we can solve this problem we can truly connect the world!

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

For over 6 years now I have been collecting books first in Finland and now for almost 3 years in the United States and delivering them to schools and preschools in Poland. When looking at colorful, funny and interesting books rather than textbooks children are more excited to learn the language and it makes it a more fun experience. When delivering these books I personally talk to the kids about the importance of learning English. The schools that I have visited have created small libraries full of English books that children can check out and take home. They also have a reading period every week where children use the books that they have received. The key to learning a language is repetition and these books are not read once but many times to help the children learn English that will be so beneficial to them in the future!

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

I have organized numerous book collections (in schools, neighborhoods, churches, etc.) and donated thousands of books to various schools and preschools in Poland. I truly believe that with the right resources, children in Poland can make a big impact on their future and hugely benefit from knowing such an international language!
As an example let us take the example of collecting books in my middle school last year. I worked with the Principal to organize a book collection. About 5 of my friends got involved in the process. Depending on their strengths they helped me with creating promotional material, talking with students, standing next to the front entrance to collect books, etc. Next we also sorted through all the books, stamped them with my stamp and separated them by category. These books then travel with me to Poland where I personally donate them to schools in need.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Books for Poland is solving a crucial issue in a society in need. If these children don't learn English they are missing a shot at a good job and a good future. There are many projects out there that deliver books to children in the area where the books are collected here in the United States. Yes, this is also very useful, yet these children already know the language and they will not benefit from them as much as children whose futures are lying on the fact that they must master the knowledge of English. Books for Poland is helping solve a global issue rather than a community issue.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Books for Poland had collected and donated about 5,000 books to kids in need. Over 10,000 children have been impacted by this project. Through receiving these books they are bettering their chance at a better future and they are learning a crucial skill. This is also a very personal project. I personally travel to Poland twice a year to deliver these books. I see every child who is impacted and I watch every smile light up children's faces.
I am making a difference one book at a time! Every book has made an impact on a child's education and their life!

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Currently I am at the stage of starting a Foundation in Poland with the working name 'Girl Power'. This foundation will not only focus on books but also helping girls both younger and older travel to grants to English - speaking countries, have mentors to help girls apply for colleges or trips around the world as well as a buddy program between girls in Poland and girls here to have conversations over Skype or write letters to help girls in Poland with learning English. The goal for the foundation to be up and running by winter 2018.
This summer I am delivering another batch of over 500 books to 2 preschools in Poland. The goal is to double this amount and donate over 1,000 books over this coming winter break!

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

I have gotten tremendous help from several communities who have donated books and supported my project. I have also worked with the President of Lodz in Poland to help me find which schools and preschools need the most help and would benefit the most from receiving books. I have also received help from our family friends who help collect books. My family has been a HUGE help to me with counting, sorting, transporting and donating all the books.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

Currently i am working with one of my friends who is designing a technological aspect for my charity in the form of an app. I would also love to partner with other change-makers to grow the scale of my project and expand it to more countries and children in need around the world! I am always looking for leaders willing to conduct a book collection project in their school or community. Every book makes a difference and every person involved can help make that difference!

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)
  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)
  • No, I do not identify with an underrepresented community

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Photo of Anna Steenbakkers
Team

I think the work you're doing is great! I especially love that you plan on using technology to increase the impact you're making. It would be great if the app plan to create will also be available to children around the world!

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