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I Can ReadWe Celebrated

International Literacy Day

on September 8, 2000…

…and showed the world our commitment to literacy

On September 8th, 2000, the Library of Congress administrative offices in Washington, D.C., hosted a significant event promoting literacy. Thirteen organizations formed an informal coalition to plan the International Literacy Day event which focused on bringing attention to literacy issues and needs worldwide.

Photo of Melinda Awid, Koichiro Matsuura, Alan MacDonaldAlan MacDonald, Director of International Relations, and two of his staff, Dave and Gloria Farah, helped to make arrangements for this event. Planning sessions have been going on for the past year in both New York City and Washington, D.C. Melinda Awid, Head of the Literacy Department for the Translators Association of the Philippines, was invited to be a featured speaker during the opening ceremony. Dr. Karl Franklin, Vice-President of Academic Affairs, Pat Kelley, International Literacy Coordinator, and Marshall Schultz, International Literacy Consultant, also attended to represent SIL International.

Activities went from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Franklin the Turtle and his crew plus Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Ben Vereen were out on the plaza to read books to roughly 350 pre-kindergarten children from D.C. Literacy Volunteers of America finished their 22-city tour on the plaza as well.

Display booths were set up in the James Madison Hall so visitors and people interested in literacy could stop and talk with staff, pick up literature, and find out more about the challenge of promoting literacy.

Photo of Dave Farah, Brady Anderson, Gloria Farah, Melinda AwidDuring the Opening Ceremony the Director General of UNESCO gave an address followed by the presentation by Melinda Awid of the Philippines. President Clinton sent a message of encouragement by letter. Brady Anderson, USAID Administrator visited briefly in the morning.

Over the noon hour, representatives from each of the planning organizations talked together about key issues facing those working in literacy. The luncheon was followed by an International Symposium during which a panel and audience participants looked at the results of a new study about literacy rates.

Collaborating with organizations like World Bank, UNESCO, USAID, International Reading Association, UNICEF, and others helps us to network in such a way to make an ever greater impact for literacy. We are already looking at and planning for next year's International Literacy Day Event.