Amy Kieffer

Learning through letters

By Amy Kieffer

Nine people travelled to Zambia for three weeks in 2008 on a Social Justice Educational Study Tour organized by CJI. The tour was designed to help Canadian educators deepen their understanding of international social justice and to enable them to use what they learned with their students and the people they work with. Amy Kieffer did just that:

After I went to Zambia on a Social Justice Educational Study Tour with CJI, I wanted to share my Zambian experience with my grade 7 and 8 students in a more lasting way than simply sharing my photos and a few stories. The village of Chikuni impressed me as I met so many witnesses of hope, people committed to building up their community. So, with the help of Fr Dhana at Canisius High School, a letter-exchange began between my students at Immaculate Conception School in Formosa, Ontario, and students at Canisius, Chikuni Girls’ School and Chikuni Basic School.

We wrote our first set of letters. The students were a bit dubious, wondering if they would have anything in common with teenagers who lived half a world away. Some questioned whether they’d even get a return letter. All reservations disappeared the morning we received our first replies. The energy in the classroom was electric – students eagerly pored over the letters, reading and rereading about their pen pals and excitedly sharing bits of information. Many recognized that their new friends shared similar interests. The learning that occurred through one set of letters was amazing.