Letters to India: An Exchange of Perspectives

Akanksha Misra, a Grade 6 English teacher at Açı School in Istanbul ,writes about the development of a letter writing exchange programme between her students in Turkey and the KGBV School in Narikudi.

Putting thoughts and feelings into words and then words into action is probably the most difficult thing to do. And yet we have strived to achieve exactly that with our pen-pal exchange project aptly named “HOPE” between girls at KGBV School in Narikudi, Tamilnadu run by ODAM and Grade 6 volunteer students at Açı Schools in Istanbul, Turkey.

On the one hand, HOPE is an attempt to bring hope into the lives of the girls in KGBV that when they dream and put their feelings onto paper, they can achieve a connection with other children abroad and achieve whatever they aspire for. On the other hand, HOPE is an experience for children in Istanbul who by writing and sharing their thoughts, connect to children from a different cultural background and in the process of helping their English language skills, improve their own and enhance their general knowledge of a world significantly different from their own.

But is that really the case? Are children in Turkey and India really that different from each other? If there is anything our learning experience in HOPE has taught us—for it has indeed been a mutual learning for kids in both countries—it is that at the end of the day we all live, breathe, feel, and experience a certain reality called life. We are in our third series of letter exchanges now and the one thing that stands out in each letter is the closeness of the human spirit and our common responses to situations—be it the beauty of nature or the issue of poverty. All the children agree on some common precepts and have been open about sharing them with each other.

Recently, technology has helped promote our exchange as well. We at Açı Schools were thrilled to receive videos of the girls from KGBV reading their letters and also responded by sending them pictures of us and our school. Moreover, the English teacher Sasikala in Narikudi, along with Mr. Jeyaraj have been pivotal in making sure letters reach us on time—both as hard and as soft copies. It has been a thrilling journey so far and we hope to sustain this endeavour into the next Açı academic year: September 2012-June 2013. After all, we all have miles to go before we sleep.