Originally funded by the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office Funds for Student's Success (FSS).







Pen Pal Project - Fall 2001

Instructor: Loren Edwardson

Through writing letters, students build a bridge together to foster understanding and friendship between the seniors in the ESL class and their neighbors, the children at the Fairmount Elementary School. The Pen Pal Project gave both groups a reason to write.

"Today, December 13, 2001, we had a celebration with the children from Fairmount Elementary School that we have been writing to this semester. Yesterday we decorated the room with balloons and a banner. The students from the third - fifth grade walked a block from their school tour class at the 30th Street Senior center. My students were very excited and clapped their hands when the children arrived. We all had nametags and began to find our pen pals in the group of over fifty children and adults. I gave a brief welcome and thank you to the children and their teacher Christine Velasco led us in a cooperative activity to the music of Celia Cruz. She played music and we walked around and greeted people. When the music stopped we were to talk with the person closest to us and answer a question, "Describe your house" and the second round question was, "If you had a million dollars what would you do with it?" Later the children sang two songs. One was "Queremos paz" and the next was "Lean on me". Then we had refreshments, took photos with our pen pals and had time to get to know each other. It was wonderful to see the seniors with their pen pals. I felt bad for those students whose pen pals were absent. A number of my students had left for vacation and some were sick."

Evaluation of the Project

"At the end, some of the children gave thanks and appreciation to my class. It was a wonderful experience. We have built a bridge together that has brought together young and old. Where do we go from here? Each day we have opportunities to build bridges or walls. The choice is ours. It's easy to hide, but at what cost? Will we accept the challenge of building new bridges or be content to stay where we are? It was a difficult project because I have an open - entry multi-level class with students who find it a challenge to write in English. I had 20 - 40 students on any given day while Cynthia's (the primary elementary teacher) had 17. She ended up recruiting two more teachers to help with the project."

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