Letter Exchange Program
It started in 2015 as an experiment has developed into a well established program:students in Berlin and Bhaktapur write letters within a school project.
Letters? At internet times? Of course! The availablility of the world wide web in developing countries is often limited and children with poor families often can only dream of smartphones. So we write letters! On paper! And transfered by mail.
That's for all involved a great experience which offers many insights and learnings: it starts in realizing that living and communicating can be done even without mobiles; for both sides English is not the motherlanguage, and writing includes consideration and planning. But even more important is the discovery of aspects addressed or hidden in the letters received: both sides learn about the living in Nepal and Germany, respectively; which means also in an industrial and a developing, in a western and an asian country.
Festivals and every day issues, family and hobbies, preferences and what to become in the future are preferred topics of interest. Everybody is writing what s/he likes to say or to know - and will receive an answer!
It takes usually 4-6 weeks for the combined letters in a registered parcel to arrive at their destination, so within a school year 3 complete sets of questions and answers can be achieved.
Upon arrival the letters are eagerly awaited and read with curiosity. Every attendant has one directly related partner; so over time the questions and answers get more personal.
Of course there will be questions: how does momos taste, why is dashain important, and why the date is shown as 2074? Not to forget about reflection: estimating, what a student in a different country and culture might understand and what probably not, is part of the learnings. To answer questions and to assist in understanding there is alway a person available with some background for the other culture, which often yields great discussions.
It is great fun to watch how over a short period the letters get more in-depth, open and rich in content and layout: everybody strives to write interesting and nice looking letters to offer an enjoyable experience for the partner at the other side.
Currently there are about 50 students from 2 Berlin schools involved. Usually the projects lasts 1-2 years. Depending on the ability to write in English classes at grade 6 to 8 participate - and have a lot of fun in learning about other cultures, countries and people.