Students rediscover letter writing

The joy of receiving a letter.

Sunshine Beach State School learners are building cross-cultural connections with their Italian peers via an exciting new Penpal Project.

The project is an initiative of one of their international families who thought so highly of the school that they made two return trips. Arianna Lanzi and her twins Giulio and Ginevra, implemented the idea during their last visit to Australia. With a huge desire to share her love of not only the school, but also the beauty of the coast, she came up with the idea that her children’s school in Italy could experience what her own children had via photos and letters. She hoped that this communication would result in real friendships forming; with the bonus being the development of language skills on both sides of the world. Thus, the Penpal Project was born.

Sunshine Beach children put their hands up to exchange letters with students at Giulio and Ginevra’s school in Italy. These letters of introduction, written in English, shared information about school, culture and life in Australia. After much anticipation, the first package of replies arrived and the children gathered in the school’s library excitedly opening their letters.

Melissa Valotta, International Learners Coordinator, has helped the project get off the ground. ‘The children have realised that snail mail is called that for a reason – the wait maybe long, but well worth it in the end!’

As the letters were written in Italian, Ms Smartt, Italian teacher from Sunshine Beach State School, was recruited to help translate. Invaluable information was shared about school life in Italy, the types of lunches eaten, games played and much more. Year 5 student Priya commented ‘It was so much fun to open the letter. I couldn’t wait to write back. It’s something that I will remember for a long time. I will keep the letters and photos.’

The exchange is continuing and has provided the opportunity for the children to experience what is often considered as a dying art – letter writing. No emails, no Snapchats, no Facebook – pen and paper are the tools used and the only skill required is patience while waiting for replies.

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