You can be the link to 26 sets of friendships and be able to foster a better understanding about a different culture. I teach core academic subjects (Reading, Writing, Math, Science, and Social Studies) to second graders.
Two classes of second graders have been writing each other letters and sending them across the city of Chicago! My second graders in Hyde Park are pen-pals with a class of second graders in Englewood. The pen-pals have developed quite a friendship! They send off letters full of questions, news, stories and decorations and then anxiously await their letter in return. The children treasure their letters, carrying them at all times and rereading them any chance they get! The letters benefit both classes of children academically. It gives the students an opportunity to practice asking and answering thoughtful questions. The students are exposed to and practice a new genre of writing. Most importantly, they are asked to think about and develop a relationship with someone they only get to know through letters.
In the spirit of building this friendship, I would love for the pen-pals from different corners of the city to meet. What better place for two pen-pals to meet than over lunch at Lee Wing Wah in the heart of Chinatown to celebrate Chinese New Year? Both classes have been studying the traditions of Chinese New Year and would like to make the trip to culminate their learning experience. While they have learned a lot about traditions from books and discussion in class, a field trip would make the learning unforgettable!
The actual experience of going to Chinatown is particularly important because my students and especially their pen-pals in Englewood have had extremely few experiences outside of their own neighborhood and with people from different backgrounds. Their own neighborhood is nearly 100% African-American and a high-need community. Many of the students have never left Englewood. It would be a tremendous experience for them to be able to see and experience a new neighborhood and cultural tradition. Both classes have been learning positive ways to talk about cultural differences. We want our children to be able to practice these skills in a real life setting.
With your help, our students will have the extraordinary opportunity to broaden their horizons, celebrate Chinese New Year in a meaningful and authentic way, and bond with new friends! Gung Hay Fat Choy!
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