[Guest Post] Pint-Size PenPals

Today’s guest blogger is LetterMo Community Member Bridget Larsen, who is originally from the island of Fiji in the South Pacific and now calls Brisbane, Queensland in Australia home. One of her favourite and ongoing passions is crafting in all forms: Mixed Media, Card Making, Scrapbooking and Photography. She designs and teaches at craft stores, retreats and craft shows around Australia and at a retreat in the US. Be sure to check out her blog and Pinterest page.

I started letter writing when I was 12 years old and loved every aspect of it. I moved to emails and texts but missed seeing a handwritten letter in my mailbox so I started penpalling again 3 years ago and have met lots of lovely people around the world. I also met face to face with a few people here in Australia through postcrossing.

So I will be Guestblogging for Lettermo today with a wonderful story that started from a chance encounter with a dedicated school teacher in Illinois USA who is a member of Postcrossing. I happened to come across her request for postcrossers to send postcards to her 5 year old pupils who loved her postcards that she received and wanted their own. Each year has as different set of children to write to. This will be my second year of sending to her students. I wanted to be a part of her class curriculum because the trend of letter writing is fast becoming obsolete with technology ruling the world.

I sent the children Tim Tam biscuits, they are best eaten by biting off a little of both ends and sucking your coffee or tea through the biscuit. The factory is just down the road from where we live. The children loved it. I also sent baby koala soft toys for each of them, and Australian Girl Guide biscuits. Connie told me they were a hit. I sent them some vegemite too which is a favourite spread of every child in Australia and the Pacific-somehow that was not a favourite and is an acquired taste.

Package sent to students with many stamps
I wanted to put as many different stamps possible on the box. Australia has some beautiful philatelic stamps.

My postcards that I sent them are about the animals in Australia. Connie does lessons about the animals and most things I send them. She has set up walls with all our postcards from around the world.

The above photos are courtesy of Connie Szorc and have been printed with her permission.

I received from them this month a wonderful parcel which was overwhelming. Connie knew that I love cooking and recipes so she got together with the parents to make a cookbook of their favourite recipes to send to me. I’m going to be trying every recipe in that book.

Cookbook from the kids and families

These are the recipe postcards they also bought and write on. I chose to write to all 22 of the students, I couldn’t just pick a few.

Connie said this programme she has going for the children have been truly life changing for their young lives. It has definitely been life changing for me as I have never had penpals so young. The innocence in their writing is so refreshing.

I asked Connie if she would like to contribute to this guest blog and the following is what she wrote:

My name is Connie, and I am a preschool teacher at Batavia Covenant Preschool, Batavia, IL USA. For a very long time I had been wanting to find pen pals for students and for some reason it never seemed to work out. As chance would have it I came across Postcrossing and it truly changed my classroom. My original intention was for my students to see a world beyond their backyard. I hoped we might learn a little about geography, different kinds of foods, fun activities children around the world might enjoy, and of course learn about different native animals. What I never expected was how Postcrossing and letter writing could have turned into so much more. One very special day I was lucky enough to meet Bridget from Australia. She wanted to share Australia with all of my students. She told us about koala bears and kangaroos. We took time to read books about Australia, and then find it on the map. We read all we could about koalas and kangaroos. Then one day a package came filled with postcards and information and best of all Tim Tams. We all learned how much we loved those cookies. Bridget also told us about a food called Vegemite, we had never heard of it, but after a trip to a local store that deals in different cultural foods, we found it. We discovered we liked Tim Tams much more than Vegemite.

Postcards and writing started out as a way for my class to learn about the world we live in, instead we have made many friends. My students now understand the value of a written note, and they have learned they can do a random act of kindness just by picking up a pencil (or crayon) and tell someone about their day. The best part, because they are young their parents have become just as involved. Bridget not only touched my classroom with her letters and words, but she has touched their families as well.

What we have come to learn from Postcrossing and letter writing is that people all around the world are pretty amazing. We now think of Bridget as one of our best friends. All I have to do is say we received postcards from Bridget and my students know exactly who I mean.

My student’s parents often tell me how much they love this project, and I say “I do too!”

One Reply to “[Guest Post] Pint-Size PenPals”

  1. What a delightful story that Connie and Bridget share about letter writing, sending postcards and love in all shapes and sizes around the world. You two and the students rock!

    Thanks for sharing ~~

    from Jan and John of Edmonds, Washington, USA with blessings always !

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