“Who would have guessed that go would catch on so well in a tiny rural town where hogs outnumber humans?” asks a school librarian in rural North Carolina.
The American Go Foundation has sent hundreds of copies of Hikaru no Go manga to schools and libraries across the country. One set went to a middle school in Burgaw, North Carolina. “Ninety percent of our students receive free or reduced price lunch,” writes school librarian Kathleen Stewart-Taylor. “Most of our 275 students are African American or Latinos. Some of them are children of migrant workers; a few of them work in the fields/farms themselves. Many have parents who can’t speak English or can’t read or write in any language. We live within 20 minutes of the ocean, but most of my students have never seen it.” But, says Stewart-Taylor, “I would bet that 75 % of my students now know about go and at least 25% have tried to play a game.”
“Several months ago you sent us a free set of (Hikaru no Go) manga,” says Stewart-Taylor. “It worked. We now have a go club and they are talking about going to a tournament next year! This is a big deal for us. We have tried chess, but our students didn’t like the deep game trees, they prefer the sense of ‘aliveness’ that they have with go.” The Hikaru no Go series was among the top 10 books circulated during the second semester and “Top 5 for the last 9 weeks,” Stewart-Taylor reports. “Many students now come in to the library during lunch to log on to Tigers Mouth. One of the Hikaru manga even got swiped! This just doesn’t happen. Check out books and lose them, sure. Drop one off the combine and run over it, you bet ya. But stolen?” (He returned it.)
“Next year, If I can get a nucleus of students who know the game well enough to teach others, I’m going to print off small go boards and have them play during lunch,” Stewart-Taylor adds. “Go is cheap — just give them a printout of a board and a couple of different colored markers. Lunch can be a hard time with lots of discipline referrals. I’m hoping that playing go will reduce the problem behaviors.”
“A student ran up me this afternoon and gasped ‘Mrs. Stewart! Did you know about the agfgo website?! (pant pant) . . . It’s so cool!’ He’ll be at the local public library this weekend, studying go.”
- report by Roy Laird
6/20: Burgaw is in North Carolina, not South Carolina, as originally reported.