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9th Graders Donate Over 200 Books to Students Overseas

By: Nikolai Stripay

Imagine boarding a plane headed across the planet with 200 books in tow. Sounds rather odd, right? Why would you bother lugging some stacks of paper with you on such a long trip? At first glance, this certainly seems out of the ordinary. But what if it is not as odd as it may seem?

Mrs. Panucci’s husband, Mario, works at Chevron, where he is Productivity Manager for something called the Future Growth Project. Formed in 1993, this mega-project is a part of a joint venture between Chevron, ExxonMobil, KazMunayGas (Kazakhstan’s state-owned oil and gas company), and LukArco (a subsidiary of the russian oil company Lukoil). It involves developing the Tengiz and Korolevskoye oil fields in Kazakhstan, northeast of the Caspian Sea. While he will likely be focused on his work with Chevron, Mr. Panucci has a secondary project in mind; one that involves a village about 60 miles inland from the Caspian Sea.

The town of Boranqul lies on the northern end of the Mangystau Region in Kazakhstan. The capital of the Mangystau region is Aktau, with a population of about 190,000. The entire Mangystau region has a population of about 680,000. Not much can be found on the Internet about Boranqul specifically, other than its location, approximate size, and a few pictures. One thing we do know, though, is that the kids there are learning English. And Mr. Panucci hoped to help with this by donating over 200 books to students in the town.

The Town of Boranqul

The drive, which ended on November 5th when Mr. Panucci left for Kazakhstan, collected books from many freshmen; mainly elementary-level books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, with some lower-level material scattered about. Students from each 9th grade English class donated books to the drive, and every freshman wrote a letter to go with each book. These letters contained information about our daily lives as American students, as well as questions about the day-to-day activities of Kazakh children.

The drive was also covered in the Sewickley Herald, who came to the school one morning to take a group picture of the 9th graders who contributed to the drive.

Many students found the book drive to be interesting and enjoyable. When asked about the opportunity by the Sewickley Herald, Freshman Eric Weicht said, “I liked the unique connections and perspectives we gained, and I am excited to see how our letters will be received.”

Mr. Panucci returns to Sewickley on November 28th, and hopes to bring back information about the students in Boranqul, and maybe even a few letters from them, too.


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