I started my first semester at MIT a few months ago. So far, I love it here.
However, I’m realizing that the more I weave myself into the fabric of my school community, the less engaged I become with my hometown — Great Neck.
During my parents’ recent visit to my university, they informed me of three things:
1. My little brother started taking swimming lessons despite being afraid of the water, 2. My normally energetic grandpa was temporarily hospitalized for an arterial clot, and 3. Qiping Zhang is running for the library board of trustees as a write-in candidate.
Out of those three items, Qiping’s write-in candidacy was the only news that did not surprise me.
In fact, it made total sense. Though I’m not very knowledgeable in the details of the library election or politics, I grew up in the Great Neck libraries. I learned how to read and write English within the blue walls of the Parkville Library.
I watched Levels theatre productions with my family on Saturday nights at the Main Library. I prepared for high school science fairs and environmental competitions at the Station Library. During SAT season, I essentially lived at the libraries.
I know the libraries and I know Qiping Zhang; To me, her desires to run for a trustee position and to help the libraries make complete sense.
These are three things I know about Qiping:
- She’s an educator.
I first met her when I was seven. To many, she was a professor of library and Information Science at LIU. But to me, she was my youth bible study teacher.
Every week, her infectious enthusiasm and engaging lesson plans made Friday nights something to look forward to. Whether through acting, or storytelling, or singing, she brought her passion for education and unmitigated joy to every gathering.
However, she taught me more than just about my faith. She walked with me through life, through personal struggles, through academic stress. She inspired me to contribute back to my own community.
When I grew older and it became my turn to teach the Bible study children, she continued to support me with educational resources and example lesson plans. She’s the kind of person who knows what her students need, who loves her students like she loves her own children.
- She cares for her community.
Qiping is the one who brings extra food to the barbeque, who makes more than enough baked goods for the fundraiser, who greets you with dumplings at the door.
I’m incredibly appreciative of not only her amazing cold noodles but also all the other ways she’s dedicated herself to making families in the community feel safe, comfortable, and loved. Personally, I think back to all the times she’s sent me and others home from church, even when it’s been completely out of her way.
I think back to all the times she’s given my mom advice on how to effectively communicate with angsty teenagers. I think back to all the times she’s sacrificed parts of her busy schedule to wholeheartedly help others.
When I heard she started hosting community building seminars and lectures for the past few weeks, I was not surprised. Likewise, when I heard she was making her class online this semester to focus her time on the library, I was not surprised. Because that’s who she is: a devoted member of the community.
- She loves the library.
When I was young, I remember being in awe of the array of books in Qiping’s house, especially the constantly changing inventory on her children’s bookshelves. She made the library a familiar space for her children, encouraging them to develop a passion for reading and a love of learning.
Yes, she has several impressive qualifications including a PhD in Library and Information Science and a Masters in Psychology; however, more importantly, Qiping is a true library scientist and researcher at her core.
She’s someone who creates a highly organized excel spreadsheet, complete with pictures, recorded times, and remarkably specific notes, to track the raccoon outside her house. She’s someone who can become a near expert on a topic in a few days through careful research and effectively acquiring information.
She’s someone who understands how to manage library and information resources and how to apply the crucial perspective of education to the library. She’s someone who exercises these skills in every aspect of her life.
In the community, Qiping is famous not only for her cold noodles but also for how many families she’s touched with her passion for education and her love of people. For several years, she has been a transformative force not only for my family but also for countless others. I can only imagine how many more people she could reach through the libraries.
No matter where I am or where my education takes me, Great Neck will always be my home, my community. I will always remember the library as a safe space for curious learning and family bonding. My hope is that this continues to be the case for all the children in the town.
Qiping Zhang devotes herself to core community values and education in the libraries. I believe that she will keep the library as a sanctuary space for intellectual inquiry and interactive community bonding for the future of our town.
So I urge you to please go vote on Oct. 29, 2018 and write “Qiping Zhang” on the bottom of your ballot.