For the last four years, Lisa Thimme has coordinated the BOOKBRIDGE projects in Asia. As she has strongly influenced the way BOOKBRIDGE implements its mission and goals, we talked to her about how BOOKBRIDGE has involved over the the last four years.
Lisa, you have been supporting our learning centers for the last 4 years. What motivates you every morning to get up and call Mongolia and Cambodia?
What motivates me is the impact we have locally. Seeing all the happy faces: kids reading, playing, studying, laughing in our learning centers. It shows me that what we are doing really serves a need in the communities and has a positive impact on the education of those kids and therefore, hopefully, a positive impact on their future lives.
The commitment of our learning center staff also motivates me a lot: To see how they engage in their communities to create a positive change. Not to forget our external supporters, such as our amazing learning center volunteers who support the local staff and get so passionate about BOOKBRIDGE that they continue being involved with us even after their assignment has ended.
Last but not least it is our team that motivates me. I love working in a diverse and international team. It is great to talk to Amar in Mongolia and a few hours later to Sokhan in Cambodia discussing what is currently going on and what needs to be done. Amar and Sokhan are great and very different persons which brings in a lot of diversity in my daily work routine. For me it is great to experience that not only BOOKBRIDGE in general improves and grows but also to see how relationships among team members grow and how each team member grows with his or her areas of responsibility.
Thinking back on the development of our learning centers during the last four years, what makes you proud?
What makes me proud or rather content is too see how our concept has developed since I have joined BOOKBRIDGE. At the beginning, we just provided books and shelves, there was not a budget to invest in a new fancy learning center. The development of a learning center was solely dependent on the country manager and a local manager. For me a big and most important step is that now we invest money through an external investor and invest a lot of brain and time into the development of each learning center and really support the local teams to ensure that their child-friendly institution becomes financially self-sustained and at the same time serves the educational needs of the community. Another important change is that the team still gets support after the learning center has been set up and is not left alone after its opening.
What was the most difficult situation you faced in supporting our learning centers? What did you learn out of it?
The biggest challenge for me was to see the reality on the ground and the past BOOKBRIDGE approach and to get the BOOKBRIDGE approach aligned to the reality and needs. To make everyone understand that it does not make sense to rush but to invest a lot of time, to be very thoughtful before you get started and to be patient.
Battuul opened up our 13th learning center last week. What do you wish her and her team?
I wish Battul and her team a wonderful opening ceremony and a great start for their new learning center, that it becomes the best and fanciest place in Dalanzadgad to learn and broaden ones horizon. I also wish Battuul that all her dreams related to the learning center come true. It is great to have Battuul in the team!
Looking into the future, what do you wish for yourself and BOOKBRIDGE?
I wish BOOKBRIDGE for the future that it keeps its positive spirit and keeps its track. I wish that it further improves, develops and grows and that also in the future many people get passionate about the BOOKBRIDGE idea and continue supporting it.