Last year, we began a connection between Trillium Charter School in Portland, Oregon and Susanna Bilingual Primary School in Cameroon, but because of a late start and a variety of delays, were only able to exchange one set of letters, with the replies from Cameroon arriving after school had recessed for the summer. But I was able to deliver them to Trillium last week after school resumed.
Many of the students who had participated last year were not in this year’s class, but since we are getting an early start, we look forward to being able to develop real friendships this year.
Last year, several Trillium kids had mentioned that pizza was their favorite food, and at least one reply from Cameroon asked what “pizza” was. The kids enjoyed explaining, not only drawing pictures but, in one case, including a detailed explanation of how to make one. This also lead the kids to start thinking more carefully about what kids in a completely different culture would be familiar with, and to think about how to describe what might not be familiar (“Will they know what a unicorn is?” “How would you describe roller skating?”).
Since the kids in Cameroon had commented frankly on the sloppy handwriting and spelling in the letters they received last year, this year the kids are taking composition more seriously, writing a rough draft that can be reviewed and correct before carefully writing their final version. Good practice!