Sometimes a friend from New Hampshire travels 7,000+ miles and visits you. And sometimes that close friend helps you package up more than 125 handwritten letters from Rwandan students so he can courier them back to Pinkerton Academy in New Hampshire where students there can answer many questions.
These questions are not limited to but include “What do you eat at school?” and “How many languages do students in America learn?” As well as “Are you single?”
In my classes, I have been teaching my students about the importance of fighting stereotypes. I think I am learning just as much as they are.
It’s impossible not to have bias about different cultures or groups of people around the world if you haven’t met or talked with them individually. We look at a million people from a country and we see one person, one personality and one level of integrity and success. We picture one person instead of a million different people with different names, hopes, dreams and favorite foods.
These letters are the beginning of something beautiful: it’s communication student to student–teenager to teenager.
When my students here in Rwanda have a teenager-to-teenager honest conversation about life with American students, bias and stereotypes come crashing down like an avalanche of snow pierced by a ray of sun.
In this case, the ray of sun is simply a handwritten letter bundled up, traveling with my close friend Bobby O’Donnell from Rwanda to Kilmanjaro, to an island off Tanazania, to South Africa and then finally to a neatly organized classroom in rural New Hampshire.
Pray these letters make it all the way to Pinkerton! The power of the pen is such an amazing thing to witness.
If you’re a teacher or are just interested in having a conversation/pen pal friendship with Rwandan students, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay beautiful people! Keep your love on!