In what most would consider a test of endurance – and patience – a pair of students from Memorial University will take up temporary residence in one of the most visible places on the St. John’s campus later this week in an effort to draw attention to literacy needs around the world.
And their experiment has all the ingredients to become the latest reality television show.
Maggie Peyton and Megan Earle are literally pitching a tent in the lobby of the Queen Elizabeth II Library, camping out in a designated area for 10 days from Jan. 16-26. The two will eat, sleep, study and relax all within the confines of a small area, only being allowed out for a five-minute break each hour.
Moreover, their entire movements will be recorded live on a webcam 24 hours a day, to be viewed around the globe.
Memorial is just one of seven universities from across the country taking part in this year’s Live-in for Literacy, a national campaign aiming to raise money to help build schools, libraries and other educational infrastructure in developing countries.
Nationally, the goal is to raise $40,000 to go towards the construction of nine libraries in India. At Memorial, the pair is hoping to collect at least $6,000.
This is the second year Memorial has taken part in the national fundraiser. Last year, a pair of students raised roughly $4,500 for the cause.
This year’s participants want to increase that amount.
And they’re up for the challenge of living publically on campus.
“I think living in the tent for 10 days will definitely be an interesting experience,” said second-year Arts student Maggie Peyton, a resident of St. John’s.
Both she and Ms. Earle are volunteers with the group Students for Literacy @ MUN.
“I will also enjoy meeting the different people who come out to support us. This is just such a great way to support our cause I cannot help but be excited about it. On a personal level we hope events like this will demonstrate how important literacy is to people of the world.”
With the winter semester just underway, the students have made arrangements with their professors to deal with missed classes. They will also have access to a computer during their experiment to keep atop of assignments, and a cell phone in case of an emergency. The university’s Campus Enforcement and Patrol surveillance cameras will be adjusted towards the living area for 24 hour surveillance.
They’ll be collecting donations from students, faculty and staff members, as well as university groups and from the wider community.
For her part, Ms. Earle said she hopes their experiment will ignite interest in helping literacy causes both here in this province and around the world.
“As university students, we’ve experienced an environment that presents literacy as a normal, everyday skill, when in reality it is an opportunity not everyone has been lucky enough to receive,” said Ms. Earle, a native of Lodge Bay, Labrador, who is hoping to pursue a social work degree.
“I suppose the message I would hope people get from this is: embrace your opportunities, share your knowledge, and develop your skills to the fullest of their potential.”
More information about Live-in for Literacy 2009 is available at www.liveinforliteracy.com/ or people can drop by the QE II Library anytime beginning at 2:30 p.m., on Friday, Jan. 16, until 2:30 p.m., on Monday, Jan. 26.
To make a donation to the cause, people can also call 737-3111.
Editor’s note: Interviews with Maggie Peyton and Megan Earle can be arranged during their live-in at the library.