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February 5, 2003

Goodwill gesture Hearing-impaired students collect books for Nigerian school

From: MLive, NJ - 05 Feb 2003

By Brian Wheeler
Staff Writer

Judy Cudworth's students can't bring running water or electricity to the Plateau School for the Deaf half a world away. Still, they might open a new chapter for the Nigerian school.

The four Middle School at Parkside students have collected more than 600 books and hope to round up many more for the school they learned of from Cudworth.

Like the students in the Nigerian school, the Parkside students are hearing-impaired. But what made them more interested in the effort, their teacher said, was learning that the other school had few books. Parkside's library has more than 5,000 books.

"How can there be a school somewhere that has only four books in their library, when we have so much?" Cudworth said.

Cudworth thought up the goodwill project after taking a master's-degree class at Gallaudet University, the nation's pre-eminent school for the deaf in Washington, D.C. One of her professors there had studied at the Nigerian school.

The Parkside students have addressed school and civic groups, are selling T-shirts and candy bars, and even sampled a traditional Nigerian meal in class.

Nigerian public students learn in English, so there's no language barrier with the books, and the students are collecting just about everything. Shipments from various donors now arrive at the school every week, Cudworth said.

"It feels good to help the Nigerians," said eighth-grader Kayla DeRae.

The students -- DeRae, eighth-grader Fawn Foster and seventh-graders Victoria Arnold and Chris Helton -- next will travel to Washington in late April to deliver some books to Cudworth's former professor and maybe some Nigerian delegates. The rest will be shipped and the class is seeking money for shipping costs and $4,000 in travel expenses.

Simon Guteng, Cudworth's professor at Gallaudet, said the students' charity will make a huge impact.

"It shows the compassion that she and her students have for deaf and hard-of-hearing students," Guteng said. "To be honest, I was really touched."

© 2003 Jackson Citizen Patriot.