Philip Alabi, a graduate student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, poses with a collection of donated textbooks. He plans to donate the textbooks to a university in his home country of Nigeria. He is seeking donations to fund the shipment.
EDWARDSVILLE — When Philip Alabi saw his chemistry professors giving away nearly new textbooks at the end of the spring semester, he could hardly believe his eyes.
“I kept passing by and saw they were just giving away these books,” said Alabi, a 30-year-old chemistry student pursuing his master’s degree at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. “I looked at the books and I saw they were still relevant. I was like, ‘Really?’”
Alabi began his studies at Tai Solarin University of Education in Ijebu-Ode, a city in southwest Nigeria. He said books like the ones the SIUE professors were giving away are a rarity at the Nigerian university, where he finished his bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Textbooks at SIUE, Alabi said, are more varied and in-depth in subject, and are also more current.
“I started thinking I should do my best to get them together and begin to ship them (to Nigeria), seeing as they’re giving the books away anyway,” Alabi said.
He started off by collecting about 50 books in June. Five months later, Alabi has collected more than 900 college text books on topics from chemistry to psychology. On his fundraiser website, Alabi says the books will be used to provide “access to relevant information and textbooks that are needed for advancing [Nigerians’] careers, education, and lives.” His challenge now is to ship the books, weighing thousands of pounds, more than 6,000 miles to Nigeria.
Alabi says he has managed to secure space in part of a shipping container going to Ghana. Now, he’s arranging transport for the final leg of the journey to Nigeria. He says he hopes to raise enough money to send them out by the end of the month. From the time the books leave Edwardsville, it will take five weeks to get to Ghana. They could reach Nigeria by the end of the year.
“I really want to see it go to the end,” Alabi said.
Leah O’Brien, professor and chair of the chemistry department at SIUE, said Alabi is an “excellent” student who is popular with students, pursuing an admirable cause. She met Alabi just over a year ago. He was a student in one of her classes and worked as a teaching assistant for O’Brien.
“He gets on very well, he’s very knowledgeable and the students like him,” O’Brien said. “We wish him much success in this endeavor. We’re very proud of him.”
Alabi plans to complete his master’s degree in chemistry at the end of spring semester 2017. He plans to pursue his doctorate in chemistry starting next fall.