Earlier this year, Teach For Australia (TFA) and Teach For India started a global pen-pal project. The project is a rare opportunity for students in Australia and India to learn from one another and form friendships.
The first round of letters give a flavour of the brilliant personalities you could come to know as your students as a teacher in Australia.
Nightcliff Middle School (NMS) in Darwin is one of two TFA partner schools involved in the pen-pal project this year.
Associate Hannah Morris (Cohort 2016) teaches Year 7 English and Humanities at NMS and was thrilled to help facilitate the project for her students in the Northern Territory.
“I truly believe that letters possess the power to create and convey a genuine, caring relationship between all sorts of people,” Hannah wrote in a blog post for TFA last year.
Hannah is joined by fellow Associate, Zoe Rothfield (Cohort 2016), who teaches at Melba Copland Secondary School (MCSS) in Canberra, and Teach For India Fellow, Viveka Rajagopal (Cohort 2015) who teaches at CHS Kottur School in Chennai, India.
The pen-pal project officially kicked off in February when Hannah, Zoe and Viveka paired their students based on their interests and personalities. Half of the students in Hannah’s class are paired with Zoe’s students in Canberra, while the other half are writing to Viveka’s students in Chennai, India.
Students from NMS introduced themselves in each letter, writing of their personal interests, hobbies, family, school and communities.
“What’s your favourite colour and your dream place to visit that you haven’t been to yet?” one student asked.
The letters provide a great sense of the unique, funny and animated personalities of all the students.
“I eat all the time. I eat when I’m hungry, not hungry, tired, bored and even when I play my phone!” wrote another student in Hannah’s class.
The letters also highlight the diverse contexts, but also cultural similarities, of the classrooms involved in the project. Students were eager to learn and discover more about the communities where their pen-pal is living.
“Will you watch the test match between India and Australia? … In Australia is there snow? Will you play in snow? I haven’t seen snow,” wrote Manimegalai to her pen pal in Darwin.
Zoe, Hannah and Viveka hope to organise a cross-classroom Skype call later this year to introduce their students to each other.
Stay tuned in the coming months for more stories featuring follow-up letters from students in Darwin, Canberra and Chennai.