Last year, the Carlow County Library of Ireland and the Siauliai City Public Library (Lithuania) were engaged in a joint initiative – the “Pen Pal” project. This is a project about pen pals, i.e. people who regularly write to each other and send letters by post.
The goal is to find pen pals.
One of the goals of the project is to give students the opportunity to send and receive handwritten letters and possibly make international friendships that can continue in the future.
The target group of the project is youth aged 12-14. The 6th grade students of the Tullow Community School (Karlov County, Ireland) took part in the project in Ireland, and in Lithuania, the sixth graders of Siauliai Gytariai Progymnasium.
Remote seminars were held
The project included four remote workshops on letter writing, led by Irish creative writing educator Megan Wynne (https://www.meganwynne.com/)
Students from both countries participated in workshops where they learned how to describe their feelings, dreams, future plans and facts about themselves in letters. The students of the Gytariai pro-gymnasium watched the seminars in the Comic Center located in the “Saule” branch of the Siauliai City Municipality Public Library, and the students of the Tullow Community School watched the seminars in their classroom. During the seminars, students from both countries learned how to write letters. During every seminar, they learned little by litle how to tell a story, what information about themselves to present in letters so that their pen pals would be interested in reading. Students learned how important is a balance of facts and feelings in a letter. As Ms. Wynne, a creative writing educator told, if the letter contains only facts, it will be impersonal and boring. However, if the letter is full of emotions, the contents of the letter may appear very confusing and difficult to understand for a new pen pal. Children were also invited to do diary writing exercises to improve their writing skills and learn to put feelings and stories on paper.
Letters writing began
Before Christmas, students from Ireland and Lithuania managed to exchange their first letters. This brought a lot of joy to the students as everyone was very excited to get to know his pen pals. The Pen Pal initiative was also made interesting by the fact that the letters were sent by post! Therefore, the children not only eagerly waited for the letters, but everyone was very happy to receive a personal paper letter. Some students received a paper letter for the first time in their life!
So far, the students of Tullow Community School and Siauliai Gytariai Progymnasium have managed to exchange letters twice. Although the seminars have already ended, the correspondence continues! New letters are currently traveling from Ireland to Lithuania!
Initiative curators in libraries – Elena Puyo-Valverde (Carlow County Library) and Jurgita Januseviciute-Tarale (Siauliai City Municipality Public Library).
Prepared by Jurgita Januseviciute-Tarale