Celebrating A Path of Stars

Nearly 100 YMCA campers and staff attended the reading and participated in activities Photo by Gabe Bornstein

Nearly 100 YMCA campers and staff attended the reading and participated in activities
Photo by Gabe Bornstein

On Thursday, August 8th, families, children and almost one hundred campers from the Portland YMCA summer program gathered in the Rines Auditorium at the Portland Public Library for a celebration of the book A Path of Stars, written and illustrated by Peaks Island author Anne Sibley O’Brien.

Anne Sibley O'Brien with Sokumthim Nou, husband and daughter

Anne Sibley O’Brien with Sokumthim Nou, husband and neighbor, July

Project Director Kirsten Cappy briefly explained I’m Your Neighbor, Portland and encouraged the children to find books in the library that were about children from different cultures before inviting O’Brien to the stage. The author first introduced herself and then was joined Sokunthim Nou and her husband, the Cambodian owners of Chiang Mai restaurant, who prepared the Cambodian dish mango sticky rice for a snack that would be eaten later in the event.

O’Brien showed a map of Cambodia and explained some Cambodian history to give background to her story. She also explained that her book was inspired by the stories of her friends Vaensa and Peng Kem, who were born in Cambodia and had to leave the country because of the war. The audience sat captivated as O’Brien read A Path of Stars aloud and watched illustrations from the book projected on the screen.

After the story-telling, the children watched a video of traditional Khmer dancing before standing up and trying a short dance of their own. O’Brien led the audience in learning the steps and hand movements of the dance and soon the room was filled with sounds of Khmer music as children stepped and flicked their wrists.

Once the music ended, the audience prepared for a drawing lesson of the lotus flower. O’Brien showed pictures of the lotus and explained its significance in Cambodian culture. “The lotus flower is a symbol for purity because it roots itself in the mud but blooms on the surface of the water beautifully clean and pure,” she said. The audience gasped when O’Brien showed pictures of the famous temple, Angkor Wat, and a giant statue of the Buddha sitting in the lotus flower. O’Brien led the children in the drawing lesson and drew different examples of a closed and open blossom. Once everyone had learned and practiced drawing the flower, cards with “I’m Your Neighbor” written in Khmer were handed out to everyone in the audience. They could draw and color the lotus on the front and then write their own messages on the inside. While they drew, they snacked on the mango and sticky rice.

Decorated cards would be delivered to Chiang Mai restaurant in Portland as thanks for the mango sticky rice

Decorated cards would be delivered to Chiang Mai restaurant in Portland as thanks for the mango sticky rice
Photo by Gabe Bornstein

Before leaving, the children turned in their cards that would be delivered to Chiang Mai restaurant as a thank you for the delicious snack. Some kids wrote that they hoped to visit Cambodia one day or that they thought Cambodia was cool. Others wrote “I’m Your Neighbor” on the inside and signed their name.

I’m Your Neighbor Portland is tremendously grateful to the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein, who helped sponsor this event and advertised it on the Time and Temperature building. With their generous donation, every child left with personalized copies of A Path Of Stars signed by O’Brien, a set of colored pencils and a lotus blossom drawing activity. We also thank Xpress Copy (located on Fore Street in Portland, ME) for donating cardboard mats that the children used while drawing and the YMCA for bringing their campers to the library!

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Community Organizations Receive I’m Your Neighbor Portland Collection

Intern Lanie Honda putting together the collection for distribution to the communiity

Intern Lanie Honda putting together the collection for distribution to the community

On July 17th Kirsten Cappy and Lanie Honda visited community organizations around the city to deliver sets of the I’m Your Neighbor, Portland collection in the first I’m Your Neighbor, Portland Book Distribution. Rachel Talbot Ross, head of the City of Portland’s Multicultural Affairs (also head of the Portland NAACP chapter); Hildy Ginsberg, Executive Director of the Greater Portland YMCA branch; Regina Phillips, Director of Refugee Services; and Judith Southworth, Elder Refugee Coordinator for Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services received all nine featured titles on behalf of their organizations.

These organizations were chosen because of the services they provide for Portland refugees and immigrants, and for partnering with I’m Your Neighbor, Portland events. All expressed surprise at receiving the collection and Refugee Services already had plans to make them available in their waiting room.

This free book distribution was made possible through the generous donations from members of the community. We are incredibly thankful to all of the individuals and groups for their support. Please see our sponsor page if you are interested in making a contribution. All donations go towards providing free books for those in the Portland community.

Law Offices of Joe Bornstein: Neighborhood Sponsor

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We are delighted to announce that the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein has joined I’m Your Neighbor, Portland as a “Neighborhood Sponsor.”  Because of their very generous donation, 160 YMCA and other young readers attending the Path of Stars event on 8/8/13 will receive a free signed copy of A Path of Stars and get to participate in a Cambodian arts activity!

Friends School of Portland: Street Sponsor

logo_seal1380x1380.fspDelighted that the Friends School of Portland joined I’m Your Neighbor, Portland as a “Street Sponsor” allowing for over 40 books in the I’m Your Neighbor, Portland Collection to be distributed free in the city.

With a mission to “nurture children’s unfolding development as curious, creative, and compassionate world citizens” we have found a wonderful partner in the Friends School of Portland.

Support “I’m Your Neighbor”

IYNP Featured BooksStories build understanding.
Understanding weaves together neighborhoods.
Neighborhoods make our city.

Support the sharing of stories of Maine’s “new arrivals” and the cultural fabric of the City of Portland.

Contribute to the I’m Your Neighbor, Portland city-wide read project.  Together the city will read eight books set in Maine’s “new arrival” communities and discuss the commonalities between neighbors.

A donation of $112 will put one set (8 titles) of the Featured Books into the community to be given away at I’m Your Neighbor, Portland events and on stops throughout the year on The Portland Public Library Bookmobile.

Any amount, though, is welcome and can be given here.

Are you a business or can give more?  Explore the sponsorship benefits here.

(All donations flow through our fiscal sponsor, The Portland Public Library.)