The conversation began flowing the minute the busload of fifth-grade students from the Everett School in Dorchester met their yearlong JCHE pen pals. It didn’t matter that these pen pal pairs were decades apart age-wise and often just as un-alike culturally. After all, they had been exchanging letters throughout the year and learning about one another’s interests, families and favorite things to do. The face-to-face meeting was the perfect time to keep the conversation going.
After working on some word puzzles together and enjoying a delicious picnic lunch, the multi-generational pen pals met in a large group. Forming a circle, they took turns sharing an aspect of the pen pal program they liked. As each person spoke, he/she threw a ball of yarn to another while holding on to a segment of the string. After everyone shared a thought, a beautiful web had been created joining each member of the group.
The comments were heartfelt. Here’s what some of the children said about participating in the pen pal program:
“People who are different ages can be the same.”
“No matter what you do you always have a friend.”
“People of different ages are not that different.”
“You meet new people and enjoy conversations with people of all ages.”
“I enjoyed meeting my pen pal. We have a lot in common.”
Here’s what the older adults said:
“It’s great to be young no matter how old you are.”
“I enjoy getting to know young people. I don’t have any school age children in my family.”
“I’ve been in the pen pal program for many years and every year, the joy grows. By the end of the year, every child seems to grow at least three years!”
“I truly learn from these kids.”
“I like the element of surprise – my pen pal is so tall, “ stated by a JCHE resident who needed to look up to see her fifth-grade pen pal!