Following a recent visit from Ludner St. Amour, director of the Christian School of New Vision in La Jeune, Haiti, French IV students have been preparing their letters to send back to their pen pals attending his school.

According to the school’s website, the Christian School of New Vision is a nonprofit Christian mission dedicated to caring for children who are victims of poverty, neglect and abuse throughout Haiti. Over the past three years, French students from CHS have been in touch with the students at this school through a pen pal program.

“It’s interesting to compare my life to that of my pen pal’s and to get a bit of a new perspective. It’s also just cool to be able to say you’ve communicated with someone from Haiti,” Ruth Xing, French IV student and junior, said.

According to French teacher Andrea Yocum, the students wrote a letter of introduction in the fall of last year, which was then brought to the Christian School of New Vision by a medical team that went to Haiti on a medical mission. The students received their responses in December and are now writing the reverse letters, which will be delivered in March by the medical team.

Throughout this experience, Xing has learned so much and recognized the many connections that she and her pen pal share.

“I’ve learned that even though my pen pal lives far away from me, and even though we’ve never seen each other in person, our lives are actually remarkably similar. Like I know my pen pal shares some of the same interests and experiences as me. We like the same genre of music and we both have younger siblings,” Xing said.

Yocum also hopes that this program will benefit CHS students like Xing through the recognition of not only the similarities between the two schools, but also the differences which may inspire Carmel students to begin to make a difference in third world countries like Haiti.

“I think that having the pen pal program will benefit Carmel students because they will be able to see the differences between the cultures and the differences between our schools. I think it’s really important for Carmel students to be aware of the difficulties that are faced by kids trying to get an education in third world countries and how extremely fortunate we are here in the United States to have the educational services and facilities that we have,” Yocum said. “Hopefully by doing this program, the students here at Carmel will be able to see that they can help students in other countries because they can also sponsor students at the school.”

Xing also sees the benefits of this experience on a global scale and hopes that connections like this will bring people together.

“(With this program) we learn not to be so quick to judge others, whether they’re of a different culture or background. Everyone can relate to another person in some way; we just have to understand their circumstances first,” Xing said. “And why stereotype a person or culture when you can learn the truth from a firsthand account?”

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