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Celebrating the Traditions of New Friends - Across the World

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The longstanding Holiday Card Exchange project engages students to gain a deeper understanding of other countries’ cultures and traditions. Classes are grouped with approximately seven other classes in other countries to send cards that commemorate their local holidays and traditions between October and December, including Chinese New Year, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Eid. Participants also exchange information about their schools, countries, and cultural activities, as well as recipes and photos related to their local celebrations in the project forum. Classes often arrange video conferences with each other as well. Following the receipt of their holiday cards from their partner classes, participants often display their partners’ cards in their schools or host a local exhibition to showcase them. Read on to learn about the experiences of three classes, one in Japan and two in Pakistan, that recently participated in this very special and unique iEARN project.



Pakistan - Aga Khan School Garden Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan

Despite being in lockdown due to the pandemic, students and their families in grades 4-9 at Aga Khan School Garden Karachi in Karachi, Pakistan, prepared handmade New Year’s cards for their partner classes. Along with the cards, they mailed jewelry, mud pots and Pakistani souvenirs to their partner schools in Japan, Taiwan, Belarus, another region of Pakistan, and the United States. 

“It was fascinating to see how excited the children were when they received cards and letters from partner schools in different countries. It was a unique [experience] for students to learn about holiday traditions of other countries,” remarked educator Naila Fahim. 

The students displayed holiday cards from their partner classes at a school assembly and exhibition, and social media. Students also exchanged videos they made featuring famous people in their countries, traditional foods, and cultural traditions with their partner classes. Below are some reflections from the students:

“Although we live in a world run by digital communication, a card sent through postal mail can mean a lot to both the sender and the recipient. We really enjoyed receiving cards from other countries, especially during the pandemic.” - Ali

“I loved this activity. When sending a handmade greeting card, you are telling the recipient that you care. And during this time your thoughts are on the recipient.” - Saad

“I have learnt about holiday traditions and culture in other countries. I am also interested in the geography of these countries.” - Zahra

“I have learnt about holiday traditions and culture in other countries. All cards were meaningful.” - Hadia


See their photos below:

      
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 Japan - Kobe City Suzurandai Youth Center and Obu Junior High School, Kobe, Japan

Middle school students at Kobe City Suzurandai Youth Center in Kobe, Japan worked with local primary school students to create holiday cards. Then they participated in video conferences with their partner classes in Belarus and Taiwan, to discuss their cities, how they protect themselves against the coronavirus, and teachers shared how classes were operating during the pandemic. Students reflected on the experience:

“Because of COVID 19, we can’t go to foreign countries easily. It is hard for us to get to know them and their cultures. I think to talk with them in zoom is easier and better than meeting directly. It is so fun, so that such a chance should be given to us more. I have been interested in foreign countries and people for long. But I didn’t know about them because of my lack of my knowledge. After I completed this project, I found it myself to have got interested much better than before. I’m going to study about them much more.” - Kenta

“At first, I was very nervous when I started to speak in front of many people. However when I finished my presentation successfully, I was very happy. I also saw the Taiwanese students’ presentation on the zoom meeting. It was so interesting for me. They spoke about “Garlic” and “Flower Festival in Chi Tong. I became to want to eat Garlic shaved ice and go to see the flower festival. I want to go to Chi Tong someday.” - Kosei

“At the zoom meeting, I met the students in Taiwan and Belarus...I spoke how I have been protecting against Corona Virus, infectious disease...On that day, I supported the primary school students to write their cards. It was so fun to me. And I heard Taiwanese students’ speech which gave to us. I was so impressed how good English he spoke. I want to improve my English much better. Thank you!” - Ai

See their photos below:

      
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Pakistan - Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan Secondary School, Karachi, Pakistan

Students at Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan Secondary School in Karachi, Pakistan exchanged holiday cards with their partner schools in Taiwan, Slovenia, Russia, and Belarus. “In the time of pandemic, these activities have served as a reason to cherish our lives that we are still healthy and alive; and wish the same for all who are related to us in any manner, whatsoever,” commented educator Humaira Asif. Students shared how participating in the Holiday Card Exchange project impacted them: 

“I enjoyed this activity a lot, it was a unique activity where I was able to exhibit my creativity and share words of appreciation and happiness with my partner schools/students. Thank you very much for providing this opportunity.” - Rafia

“I enjoyed the activity of card making at home with my parents and in school under my teachers’ supervision.” - Shahmeer

“Thank you for providing this chance during this very distressing time of COVID 19, it helped me to heal my disappointments in the current uncertain situation.” - Shabia

“Sharing your feelings with others and spreading happiness around us is an unmatched feeling. Thank you very much.” - Sakina

See their photos below:

      
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