Rochester resident Kim Sin closes his eyes and daydreams.
He remembers seeing the children in his native Cambodia, sifting through trash looking for a meal.
But he envisions a place where those children can make a decent living and learn English, doing so with books donated by people in southeastern Minnesota.
The dream isn’t too far from the mark.
Sin, 33, and several friends have created a school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, that teaches English to about 200 people, from young children to 20-year-olds. He sends $800 a month to the school, as do others. The school has been in operation for about four years and recently received a donation for furniture and bookcases from University of Minnesota-Rochester staff.
But when Sin, who works in the UMR information technology department, showed his co-workers pictures of the school, they saw that more work needs to be done.
“When he showed us a picture of the library, the bookshelf was empty,” UMR librarian Mary Beth Sancomb-Moran said.
So Sancomb-Moran used her contacts throughSoutheastern Libraries Cooperating, a group that fosters collaboration with more than 130 libraries, to find books the school could use.
The group came up with more than 1,000 books to send to the school, Cambodian Family Organization.
“It shows that we don’t have to give money to make a difference,” Sin said.
He got involved in creating the school while visiting Cambodia with Rochester Community and Technical College students. Sin still takes Rochester students to the country his family fled in because of war and some students have returned to the school and taught for several months at a time.
Sin, who came to Rochester in July 1983, when he was 6, said his vision is to have American students be ambassadors to the Cambodian students.
But while the books will eventually serve the roughly 200 students at the school, the story isn’t complete. Sin has to find a way to transport the books to Cambodia. He’s looking for a partner to help pay the estimated $2,000 shipping cost. He’s optimistic the books will reach their intended destination.
“I think the best thing to help these kids is to give them an education,” Sin said.
I love that we were able to help. I love that a group of libraries got together and donated enough books to fill the library for the students in Cambodia. I love that those Cambodian students will now have an opportunity to improve their lives, with help from a group of librarians in Minnesota.
To all that donated, thank you.