Westlake Girl Scout finishes Gold Award project

Katie with the two Language Library carts.

Westlake Girl Scout Katie Cirincione, who is a 16-year-old junior at Westlake High School, recently completed her Gold Award project. She is an Ambassador Girl Scout and this is her 10th year in Girl Scouts. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouts and can be earned by scouts in grades 9-12. Less than 6 percent of eligible scouts complete the award, which requires a girl to complete an 80-hour project that makes a lasting impact on her community.

For her project, Katie put together two “Language Library” carts. These carts each contain about 140 books in other languages. One cart went to the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland to offer books to those who may already know other languages. The other cart is in the cafe of the Westlake Porter Public Library in order to give those learning another language a resource to practice with, as well as to inspire cultural and lingual diversity. The public is encouraged to utilize the resources on the carts to help better their linguistic abilities.

Katie collected books in 23 different languages over a span of six months. She received the books through donations from friends, Half Price Books, Lorain County Community College, and the Book Nook used book room at Porter Library. Katie also bought books online and from several local book sales. After the books were collected, each book was labeled to show that it belongs to the Language Library, as well as with the language that it is in.

Katie used her passion for language as inspiration for this project. She speaks Spanish and is learning French. Katie plans on using language as a part of a future career.

Also, as a part of the project, Katie hosted a Culture Fair at Porter Library in March. Several groups shared their cultures through traditional food, music, displays, pictures and objects. There were also surveys on language and culture, in which the 100 attendees were invited to participate. One of the Language Libraries was on display at the fair before being delivered to the library’s cafe.

“The idea behind the Culture Fair was to get people excited about all the cultural connections that can come from knowing another language,” Katie said. “Another important part of the fair was to showcase all the diversity that we have locally.”

Katie admits that her project was more challenging than she thought it would be. Since the start of the project in August 2017, Katie has put about 110 hours into the project.

“The project is a simple idea, but there were several parts to it that I did not anticipate, such as researching books online, making sure every book’s language is correctly identified, designing labels for the books, and trips to book sales. All those ‘little things’ added up to a lot of time spent!”

Katie’s leadership skills have grown as a result of this project. She was able to learn more about managing events and being in charge of volunteers. This project also helped her learn about more languages.

“It was definitely a challenge to classify all the books’ languages, especially for the ones that don’t use the same alphabet that English does because I couldn’t type them into the computer. I’m really lucky that my friends know a variety of languages – they were a huge help in sorting some books.”
Katie says that she could not have completed this project alone. She would like to thank everyone who helped with this project, including her project advisor, Ms. Carolyn Fain, the Book Nook at Porter Library, all the volunteers at the Culture Fair, her friends and her family.

Jennifer Cirincione

Jennifer Cirincione is a Westlake resident who is involved with the Friends of the Westlake Porter Public Library. She enjoys reading, volunteering, and walking. Her family fosters kittens through the Cleveland Animal Protection League.

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 9:52 AM, 04.17.2018