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Several years ago I read a children’s non-fictional book about a young American girl, who had a pen-pal in Holland shortly after WWII. This meant that they wrote letters to each other back and forth about their lives and became long-distance friends.

One of the facts that the American child learned was that the war had taken a terrible toll in terms of everyone in the Dutch town having enough warm winter clothes. So she went to her school friends, her parents and other adults in her town to provide clothes donations and money for shipment of clothes of various sizes to her friend.

In exchange the members of the Dutch community shipped chocolates and many tulip bulbs to the American girl so that the food could be shared and the tulips be planted around her town. It was a win-win all the way around.

In the USA, we have classes of school children who write to the individual classes of other children in distant lands or far away in our own country. They write letters. They also send drawings that they made of where they live (i.e., of playing in the snow as opposed to living in tropical realms where the other class may be located). They also send other items of interest, such as red fall leaves, pencils, crayons, mittens and whatever else may be needed.

We also have an adopt a city program between sister cities wherein adults exchange letters and goods in much the same way that the two girls did at the beginning of this account. Again, it’s a win-win situation, and everyone learns and gains in the process.

Sometimes the adults even send good-will ambassadors to each others’ communities to spend time together, including children, who are placed with host families. I’m sure that it is an eye-opening experience, especially when the religions, ethnic groups, cultures wildly diverge from each other in the two communities. Yet the process does help both communities in myriad ways, including in the promotion of communal harmony and gain of educational information about possibly very different people from oneself.

So I always recommend that people promote school children to do the writing exchange with another group of school children as a first step. Then they can ramp it up to involve many people as the two girls did after WWII since it is a good way to learn to help others, actually be helped and gain respect for people not similar in some ways to oneself.

Here is an old Shaker song that I used to sing as a child with my family and in Quaker (Religious Society of Friends) Meeting. It helped me to realize the value of working hard in basic ways to support a good path forward for myself and others. It helped teach me about respect, caring and dignity toward myself and others – even those far, far away in other cities, towns and villages, who I tried to help.

Songs of America – Simple Gifts – Shaker Hymn [with lyrics] – YouTube

▶ 1:41

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLAnuG1340g

Dec 23, 2011 – Uploaded by Cibertracker Imperium

For those who understand this song, it is a statement of truth about how simplicity is the destination we all long …

Simple Gifts – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simple_Gifts

Simple Gifts” is a Shaker song written and composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett. Contents. [hide]. 1 Background and composition; 2 Resurgence and …

Sally Dugman is a writer from MA, USA.

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One Comment

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    In countries of South Asia and Africa such exchanges must be promoted not only in writing , drawing or singing but also in helping poor students of other schools with food or even economic help. This can be done by school children of public and corporate schools where students are well- off and can spend some pocket money for their counterparts in villages. This way, children could assist each other and uplift poor children . They can contribute what the callous rulers refuse to look into such basic needs