Monday, August 27, 2012

Pen Pals!

One of my lovely friends, Colleen, had a wonderful idea to start a pen-pal project with students from Tapestry Charter School in Buffalo, NY and students from a local school in El Sauce. When she returned from a month-long stay in the beautiful town of El Sauce, she was (and still is!) on fire for all things Nicaragua, especially El Sauce.

One of her brilliant ideas was to get youth from the US connected to youth from El Sauce, get them to develop a relationship and become as excited as she is about El Sauce so that once they are a bit older, they can come to El Sauce and fall even more in love. One tangible way to do this was to start a pen-pal project with middle-school aged children; how exciting would it be for these kids to receive a hand-written letter from a child in another country?!

In May of this year, she coordinated with a Spanish class at Tapestry school, where one of her grandchildren attends school, and got them to write letters to their new friends in El Sauce, introducing themselves, their community, and their school and asking questions to learn about the lives of students in El Sauce. She sent these letters through the mail to a Peace Corps volunteer who is stationed in El Sauce; believe it or not, these letters JUST arrived to the volunteer! I should also mention that they were delivered to Managua, not El Sauce directly. You see, El Sauce doesn't have a mail system! So, all mail has to go to Managua or another large city.

This week, I was able to get the letters from Rachel, the Peace Corps volunteer. Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit two 7th grade classes at Instituto Jonathan Gonzalez, the local public high school in El Sauce, and explain this project to them. The students were so enthusiastic! I had way more volunteers than I had letters to hand out - what a wonderful problem to have, no? They couldn't wait to read the letters and write a response to their new pen pals! Hopefully we will be able to expand the project to include more students in the near future!
Class 1 receiving their letters!
Class 2 - they were outside working in the school garden when we delivered the letters!

 We will be sending the letters back to Buffalo in September, just in time for the start of a new school year in the US! I can only imagine how excited the students at Tapestry will be to receive their first letter from a student in El Sauce! We're hoping to be able to maintain the communication and keep the letters going so the kids can develop relationships with their pen pals...and who knows what might happen in the future?!

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