noah2End Users of Williams degrees –

Noah Smith Drelich graduated from Williams in 2007 and is in his second year of Teach For America on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where the poverty is deep. Noah needs books for the library he is building. Used is just fine. Shipping address is at the bottom of this note. This is a fine reason to clean out our bookshelves and to take advantage of the second-hand deals on amazon, where the books can be practically free, plus shipping.

This is already a good story about a virtual Williams society of alumni. Professor Eva Grudin sent Noah my way, on e-mail, and we have been talking about teaching and education. Noah connected with Mitch Besser, ’76, who is doing innovative AIDS work in South Africa. They have been talking about constructive activism. Last week, Noah connected with Hardin Coleman ’75, who this year because dean of the Ed school at Boston University. The BU Ed library is sending Noah, as a start, six feet (this is library talk) of duplicate books Noah could use. Hardin is paying the postage himself.

Over to Noah:

I teach 7th-12th grade English out here and have noticed that reading levels in the school and the community as a whole are incredibly low–my students begin my class an average of five years behind. At the same time, everyone is receptive to the idea of reading, and I’ve had an enormous amount of success getting people books that they’re excited about. As you know, probably the best way to become a better reader is to read a lot, so I’ve been doing my best to feed everyone’s excitement with books.

Books-wise, I would especially love young adult novels. My students seem most excited by the more recent ones (Twilight, Harry Potter, Fat Kid Rules the World, anything by Sharon Draper, the Chicken Soup…books [ugh], etc), and haven’t gotten as into what I consider to be the “classics” (Huck Finn, Lord of the Flies, 1984 etc), although of course there are exceptions to that. I think the more “old-fashioned”-sounding language turns them off. In particular, I’m constantly short of books by Native American authors or about Native American subjects; I have two of every Sherman Alexie book ever published, but that’s not nearly enough, and I have far fewer by just about every other Native author. My students range in reading level from 2nd to 12th, but most are clustered around middle school reading levels. Hopefully by the end of this year that will have changed (we’re going full steam towards two years of reading growth but it’s too early to see if we’ve hit it yet). I really do believe that a good book is a good book, and given that my kids got really into Shakespeare last year, I don’t think you can go wrong in donating.

PO Box 293
Wanblee, SD 57577

Or, if you need a physical address:

Noah Smith-Drelich
Wanblee, SD 57577-0293

noah.smith.drelich@NOSPAM gmail dot com [email munged –93kwt]

Go Ephblog: An Update since this post appeared —

Of course the first quick posts from Ephbloggers reported shipments of books. The most recent report of a gift posted is from a wonderful organization, Reader to Reader. Based at? Amherst College. The gauntlet is down. I e-mailed Morty, proposing that Williams put out drop boxes for books around the campus, which the college can then ship to Noah. Knowing Morty, that’s already underway. Reader to Reader, as you’ll see, is a formidable outfit.

Just in from Noah:


Thanks so much for everything. I didn’t even realize that BU was donating books until I saw it on Ephblog! Really, I can’t tell you how much this means to me, and how much it will mean to my students and the community once the books start coming in.


P.S. Perhaps Ephblog would consider tabling the video screen/softball coach debate for a moment? To get books to Noah? It’s not campus life folks who decide on bulk purchases of plasma screens or even softball coaches, anyway, it’s the trustees.

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