The pen-pal tradition, where two school children living on different continents share their daily adventures, has become much less common than it once was.
Modern technology has offered wonderful new opportunities for instant long-distance communication. In many ways,
it has made distances between people seem much smaller. It is now possible, for one sitting in his bedroom in India, to have a real-time video chat with a friend in London, Hong Kong, Sydney or Shanghai.
Traditional methods of communication, letters and brown paper parcels, are slow by comparison. They are rapidly becoming obsolete. However, traditional technologies have a tangible quality which cannot be replaced by an email.
Although email gives us instant gratification, letters allow readers to feel closer. There is much excitement in receiving a hand-written letter, or ripping open, emptying and exploring the contents of a big parcel.
What if you combined the two, making the most of the digital realm’s ability to connect people instantly, and sharing physical objects from friends in far flung places? This new Current Conservation project promises much joy for students by resurrecting the pen-pal tradition, and taking the best that old and new postal methods offer.
11-13 year olds from two schools, one in Cornwall UK, and another near Bangalore India, will establish the first trial partnership. The students will explore ‘a year in the life of a tree’. Working together and independently, children from
both schools will observe a particular tree.
They will collect, illustrate and share stories about the tree and its many visitors. The documentation could be a painting, a collection of leaves, lists of bird species seen among the branches or anything else that has captivated their imagination. What species live in the tree? What do it’s flowers look like? When does it fruit? What sound do its fluttering leaves make when you sit beneath its branches on a breezy day? The schools will then exchange their natural diaries, and maintain a record of the sights and sounds they see and hear from their windows, and their counterpart’s windows, a continent away.
Current Conservation will document this partnership, and display some of the exchanged experiences. The pen-pal
project will bridge the gap between the technological and natural worlds.
If your school wishes to participate in the pen-pal project, please write to us at :
firstname.lastname@example.org (U.K), or email@example.com (India).
We look forward to hearing from you!