Grade six students at the Mercy School in Burns Creek have made some unexpected international friends. The students are currently taking part in a pen pal project with Albion Park Primary School in New South Wales, Australia. The project consists of students between the two schools being paired up and then hand writing letters to each other. This has been an exciting exercise for the students, and a real eye opener for those at Albion Park who normally only write letters using email!
As well as being a great writing and reading lesson, it is helping to foster understanding about each other’s countries. The Albion Park students have been excited to hear about Solomon Islands, a country that many of them are only learning about for the very first time. From different types of food, housing and schooling, the students are swapping everyday information and learning about each other’s cultures.
While the sixth grade students in Australia are around twelve years of age, the students in Honiara can be up to seventeen. Many started school much later than their Australian counterparts or have had to take breaks from schooling due to changing family priorities.
The program was set up informally by an expat (and Pineapple Post contributor), Leigh, who is volunteering at Mercy School, and her uncle who is a Year 6 teacher as well as Deputy Principal at Albion Park. ‘We were swapping some emails about my volunteer work at Mercy School and my uncle was fascinated to learn about the differences in schooling here and the lives of the kids. As we were enjoying swapping these stories so much, we suddenly realized that maybe our students would enjoy it too. The pen pal program has grown from there’, explains Leigh.
The letters have so far been hand transported between the countries by people travelling between Honiara and Australia. The letters have been warmly welcomed by students at Mercy School, who have been busy this week writing their responses to send back to Australia. The program is hoping to swap at least three sets of letters between the schools over the coming months.