For most students, the burden of academia often leaves little time to do anything else. However, involvement in extracurricular activities or non-profit organizations on campus can prove to be an enriching experience.
For OreOluwa Otegbade, volunteering for Textbooks for Change—a social venture that donates textbooks to African universities—has been an extremely rewarding experience. Based in Ontario, T4C owes its roots to founder Chris Jenssen, a graduate from Western University.
Since its inception in 2013, the organization has donated 52,000 textbooks to African universities and raised $131,500 in donations and microloans.
“I am very passionate about social impact and education. I was casually surfing for possible summer jobs [on UTM’s Career Learning Network] and this [one] was hard to resist,” says Otegabe, a second-year business administration major.
Through the efforts of Adam Frye, the director of business development at T4C, the organization has been able to partner with Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia; Moi University, Kenya; and the University of Ghana. The organization is also hosting ambitious projects with the 39 Country Initiative, run by Richard Ivey Business School. The initiative aims to collect books, journals, and cases for shipment to 39 participant countries with a per capita GDP of less than $2,000 a year.
Otegbade explains that T4C is expanding, having drop-boxes for textbooks placed at university campuses and Goodwill Industries locations across Ontario.
“T4C is new at UTM, but exists [at] about 15 other schools in Ontario,” she says.
Currently, the T4C team at UTM is preparing to host three textbook drives for the year. According to Otegbade, the team collaborates with other clubs on campus to incorporate textbook drives in events like fashion shows and concerts. Past events for the UTM T4C team include campus workshops and business competitions.
The organization’s goal is to donate over one million textbooks to African universities within five years.
“Imagine getting rid of that statistics textbook that gave you migraines for a good cause?” Otegbade jokes. Now UTM students can do so through a textbook drop-box that will soon be installed in the library. At the drop-box, students will be able to donate their used textbooks or textbooks that they no longer use.
When asked about donating textbooks to T4C, many UTM students were receptive of the idea.
“[Our textbooks] are being used for a cause, as opposed [to] for personal gain, so I guess in a sense it’s good,” says Aaron Currie, a third-year criminology and political science student. “It makes you feel a little bit good inside that you’re making a difference.”
Hannah Musni, a second-year geography student, expresses a similar sentiment. “I think it’s a really good idea. [The students that the organization donates to] are in more need than we are. I mean, we do complain about textbooks being expensive, but truly, we do have resources to buy textbooks here.”
When asked about their preferences between donating textbooks to T4C or donating textbooks to the UTM community, Jene Estigoy, a second-year political science specialist, said that she would prefer donating to T4C.
“There are courses that change the required textbooks every year, so selling them back to lower-year UTM students would be useless,” she explains, noting the more practical value in donating to T4C.