Striving to Improve Literacy in Niger

Plymouth State University allows students, like myself, an opportunity to reach out and get involved in the community, applying what they’ve learned, and acquiring new skills that they can then transfer to their career. The last few years, PSU started to lean towards taking an interdisciplinary approach to education, forming connections across multiple disciplines, and cultivating student’s interests.

Interdisciplinary Studies

Interdisciplinary Studies (IS) at Plymouth State has evolved the approach I take to education. This degree program allows me to integrate multiple disciplines into my field to attain a broader scope of my studies. Having the option to design a degree, has uncovered many creative and passionate pursuits that I may not have otherwise recognized. I have seen a lot of students with bright ideas shine through IS, and it is always exciting to see what new majors are created. Personally, I have been able to include courses ranging from English to Business and Communications, and even take an Event Marketing course with Terri Dautcher, one of the highly regarded professors at PSU. With a focus in becoming an event planner, her class was truly helpful.

Capstone Project

In appreciation of the opportunities that I have had over the years at Plymouth State, I researched the country of Niger in Africa and ways in which to get involved to help support their own educational programs. In essence, Niger has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world and very little recognition across the board about the level of access they have to education.

With a population of over 20 million people, only 19% are literate. There are cases in which five or six children will be sharing one book. In an effort to provide supplemental materials and support to the country, PSU is partnering with RAIN for the Sahel and Sahara who work closely with at-risk children to garner vocational skills and teach others in the community. According to RAIN, 47% of kids between the ages of 9-12 have never been to school. Their mentorship program has helped 14,000 people just last year.

To get involved I partnered with grad student, Ali Sekou of Plymouth State, who was born and raised in Niger. He understands first-hand what the educational system is like there and provided insight into the capstone project. In collaboration with the downtown community and local libraries, I am conducting a book drive in addition to a 5k walk and jog in Plymouth that will work to support RAIN’s efforts. This walk will take place next Friday, April 20 from 10 to 2 p.m. at the Rugby Field next to the Ice Arena parking lot. If you are interested in participating or helping out, you can register for the walk or donate here.

Oriana Raymond ’18 is an Interdisciplinary Studies major with a focus in Business and Marketing and Creative Writing Minor. She is from Sanbornton, NH. When she isn’t on campus you can find her walking her dog, or driving up north toward Franconia Notch.