Childhood pen pal experience comes full circle.
When I was a young girl, I saw an advertisement in a children’s magazine for a pen pal. Immediately I sent off for my very own friend across the country. Twenty years later, we are still in touch.
We exchanged letters about our favorite things, our families, our school, and our best friends. She liked horses; I liked music. She was from the South; I was from the Midwest. She liked the X-Files, and I was too scared to finish an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? Yet despite our differences, I discovered that she and her friends near Atlanta, Georgia were just like me and my friends in Wichita, Kansas.
Thanks to social media, I have been able to remain connected with my childhood pen pal who lived nearly 1,000 miles away. I have seen her get married, have her first child, and live a life that is still very distant from mine… yet we remain connected.
Now I have the honor of serving teachers around the world who are eager and excited to connect the students in their classroom to classes in other countries. Today, pen pals go beyond pen and paper. Students can connect via letters, as well as emails, video conferencing, conference calls, blogs, social media sites, etc. The opportunities are endless. The School & Classroom Program has linked more than 250,000 students in 128 countries for classroom partnerships.
How did I get here?
People, in general, have fascinated me since I was young. I love to listen to people’s life stories, learn about their history, and figure out what makes them tick. I started out as a child of the theater, performing and learning the art of putting yourself in another person’s shoes. Life then led me to a desire to serve others, learn about other cultures, study another language, experience life abroad, and earn a degree in psychology. Why wouldn’t I end up working for an organization called People to People International?
People to People International connects people of all countries and cultures because we believe that understanding one another is the best way to create peace. And why not start young? Our student programming is extensive – connect through your classroom, connect with your community, connect through service, and connect to the wide world through travel.
By working with extraordinary teachers around the world, I have learned they are the ones who are truly in service to the future of our world, and I am simply blessed to aid in their global education experiences. Lucky me, I get to be part of the #globaled revolution, and play a role in building so many connections and relationships! The world gets smaller and smaller, and our students become the eager ones – eager to serve, eager to learn, and eager to open their eyes to this big world at their fingertips.
To learn more about People to People International, visit their website at www.ptpi.org. Follow Paige Badgett on Twitter – @PTPIPaige. To link your own class with a partner class in another country, register for the School & Classroom Program online today at http://www.ptpi.org/community/SCP.aspx.