The Comic Book Corps

One year ago, my cousin Jacob and his wife Anna decided to join the Peace Corps. After graduating from Fullerton State University here in California (Orange County) and becoming teachers, they taught for a year and quickly got a taste of disillusionment from the American public school system and a handful of ungrateful children. After whizzing through the application, selection, and background process, they were given an intense course in Mandarin and rushed to Yibin University in Sichuan Province to teach English to Chinese kids.

One year into their 2-year tour, it seems to be meeting their ideal vision of teaching. In addition to the children wanting to learn, eager to attend school, and absorbing all things Western, Jacob and Anna are encouraged to expose them to a wide spectrum of American Culture. Are you following, yet? American Culture? They're teaching the Engligh language? With books and other various tools?

Yes! I did it. Every few months I send Jacob and Anna a care package with microwave popcorn, their favorite snack foods that they're unable to obtain in rural China, back issues of Esquire Magazine, and of course, a healthy pile of comic books! I've sent issues of the new Green Lantern, Astonishing X-Men, Blacksad, SPX 2005, all sorts of random stuff I have laying around. In addition to entertaining my cousins and being passed around virally to the other Peace Corps Volunteers, they actually use the books in their classes. Here, let Jacob explain it...

"The comics have been great for my classes and they came just in time for this past week's classes. In my Oral English classes, I had a pop culture topic scheduled, so we read through the comics as a finale to the lecture... and in my phonetics classes, I taught them about INTERJECTIONS!!! KRR-UUU-NNCH... FWUUUUSHHH! Ah, it was so awesome! Plus, I've had a couple of kids come into the office who are all about reading them... I have you guys to thank for this week's help. I took pictures so I'll email them to you soon, good stuff."

How cool is that? In addition to being a valuable learning tool for English language skills and Western Pop Culture, kids are actually coming into the makeshift "library" Jacob has created during office hours just to read them because they're hooked! I'm continuing to send them care packages containing comics, because if even one of those kids gets hooked on the medium, or better yet, goes on to become a creator, then that's worthwhile. I've been giving away books I no longer want to own to my friends and coworkers for years. Why not extend that influence internationally when I have an in like this?

I'm putting together another box to send and have the following books set aside. Keep in mind, I'm not specifically buying books for this purpose, these are just "leftovers" that I have laying around the house;

Uptight #1 (Fantagraphics): This is Jordan Crane's new ongoing series. A nice sample of a black and white indy title.
The Goon #11 & 12 (Dark Horse): Picked these up for .24 cents each at the Lee's Comics 24th Anniversary Sale. Few better horror/monster comics out there.
DMZ #6, 7, 10 (DC/Vertigo): Been tossing out issues of the second arc to family as I wait for the trade. Some interesting politics and also wanted something from the slightly "darker" Vertigo line.
Manhunter #1-25 (DC): Yup, the whole run. Thought I'd include a superhero title, but didn't want something all that mainstream. Also like giving the kids an entire run of a book.
Queen & Country Declassified: Volume 2 (Oni Press): This is the softcover trade, since I recently upgraded to the hardcover collection of this series. Spy stuff!


At 9:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hahaha! nice job dude! spreading American culture and the joy of comics around the world... that's what I'm talking about! An english course where you learn "KRRUNCHHH!" and "FWOOOSHH!", dude, sign me up!



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