Jeannine from The School Inside describes their latest project with the teachers from Nangi at Himanchal Higher Education School.

“It’s an old idea that still has much meaning: pen pals.

Although I and other volunteer English teachers take maximum advantage of the internet to teach English to people all over the world (via Skype), the one thing the internet can’t change is time zones. One of the biggest challenges we face in serving more students is finding teachers who aren’t in bed when the students are free for lessons!

That’s when we got the idea of e-mail writing lessons. Right away it had 3 big “pluses”. Tutors and students could write when it was convenient and when students had the internet connection (a big problem in many areas).  It would strengthen the students’ writing skills and speed up their learning time. (We’ve now learned that students who write more—rather than converse more—learn more quickly.) And, finally, even the simplest correspondence would bring much-needed friendship in a world filled with so much misunderstanding and fear.

We began by calling it the “E-friends” Project . . . until we launched it in Nepal.  We asked Toya, the indefatigable teacher and do-it-all helper of Nangi’s High School, to set up e-mail addresses for all the teachers taking English lessons from us.  One by one the new e-mail addresses began to come in. It was then that we noticed that everyone’s last name was “Pun”.  It was simply too irresistible. We changed the project name to “Pun-Pals”.

When people ask us what “pun” means, we say it’s the Nepali word for “one worldwide family”.  At least that’s our definition!”

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