Stories can be powerful. That’s one of the lessons learned at Teach Twice, a social enterprise that uses picture books to share stories between cultures and foster educational opportunities for children around the globe.
A pair of Vanderbilt students came up with the idea for the project while working on a class assignment, and then made it into a more permanent organization. It works like this: Teach Twice reaches out to communities around the world and works to create a children’s story based on local culture–or arranges to translate an already-existing book. They print and sell the book back home, and send the proceeds to build schools or send kids to class in the community where the story originated.
“The Teach Twice book enhances the education of two children and two communities worlds apart, yet connected through a shared commitment to education and a desire to learn from books and from each other,” says the group’s website.
Teach Twice placed third in a Vanderbilt business plan competition and won a semifinalist grant in the Dell Social Innovation Challenge. Other startup funding came from a successful campaign through Kickstarter, where Teach Twice raised more than $7,500 in less than two months.
Their first published book is My Precious Name, which came out in March 2012. The theme of the book is the Ugandan tradition of giving a child an empako, or praise name, shortly after birth in addition to a personal name. Words in the Kinyoro language are sprinkled throughout the text. “As much as possible, we want these stories to be created in the country and to represent and honor the culture,” Burbank told Vanderbilt news service.
The Teach Twice team has developed a companion curriculum to supplement the book’s use in the classroom that will be available on the group’s website. Plans call for proceeds from the book’s sale to build a secondary school in the Ugandan community of Nakikungube.
They plan to publish more titles, including translating books from local languages in South Africa to bring them to new audiences in the United States. Teach Twice was also recognized as one of the Kairos 50, a group that brings attention to innovation started by university students. In purchasing a Teach Twice book, they say, a consumer is provided with unique cultural stories that allow their imagination to travel to that part of the world and get a better look at what life may be like. Stories can change lives, on both sides of the page.