In my own social and professional circles, I am famously passionate about culture and making connections around the world. Since 2010, I have been an active participant in Postcrossing.com whereby there is an exchange of postcards between random users around the globe. I have exchanged 3600 postcards during this period. For every postcard I receive, I followup with a little research on the country, customs or geographical location from which the card was sent. Sometimes there is a short discourse with another “Postcrosser” as we ask/answer questions about the card or the region where we live. This site connects me with like-minded people who value cultural exchange and learning. A few years ago, I asked a Mexican Postcrosser if she would like to do a private swap. I could sense her upbeat personality and thought that my daughter would want to receive a card written in Spanish. This simple request blossomed into cross-continent exchange, and ultimately two visits to each other’s countries. Here you can see Rose as a third grade class visitor as a “mystery reader”. Next is a photo from the coast of Maine.
Meanwhile, I have established long-term pen pal relationships for the students in my school. We have connections in New Zealand, Germany, Taiwan and Russia. We have a small group of students for each exchange who meet with me to read their letters and compose a connected response.
The students love this extracurricular activity. I include cultural videos (shared with me) and global studies, followed by postcards to our pen pals. All of these children feel so validated to be included in this activity. This program is so straightforward to carry out, provided that you have educators who also believe in the importance of this program.