Letters from penpals: the children of Sebangau finally receive reply letters from Australia

Outreach Blog

by Petricia A. Hutasoit (BNF Education staff)

Does anyone still remember about the exchange box activity that Anak Sebangau did with the Australian school last time?
Well… finally we got the box from Australia, yippieeee!!

Are you curious what is inside the box?

When the box came, all of the Anak Sebangau members held their breath, waited to open the box, and couldn’t wait to get the letters from their penpals. Can you guess what is hidden in the box?

Here you are…………..

Inside the box are the letters written by the students of the Esperance Primary School in Australia as replies to friendship letters sent by Anak Sebangau. The letters are responses to the previous letters Anak Sebangau sent to them such as the description of the place they live in Esperance, the lessons they learn at school, their favourite food and fruits, the colors of their flag, and some beautiful drawings and pictures to show to the children of Sebangau that portray their place through some drawings of their family, whale’s tail, koala, and beaches in Esperance, Australia.

Education Team showing a gift from Anak Sebangau’s penpals, Esperance Primary School, Australia
Photo by Petricia Andini | BNF

These Australian students also tell that they have environmental education too, and they have the group called ‘Energisers’ whose mission are to keep their school environment clean, raise awareness, and do some green actions. In addition to that, these penpals also put some interesting objects in the box such as the famous necklaces made of white sand beach signature to the Esperance, southeast coast of Western Australia. For the children of Sebangau, it’s their first time seeing such pearly white sand beach. Some other objects are a kangaroo doll holding Australia’s flag, some of Australias’s flag stickers and bekel ball.

Because all the letters are in English, the Education Team members should first read and translate them into Bahasa Indonesia to the children. They sit together listening carefully to the letters with a big smile and sparkling eyes. After all the children listened to their penpals’ letters, the Education Team copied them and translated them into Bahasa Indonesia, so these happy Sebangau little squads could bring the letters home to tell their family and keep them.

Anak Sebangau seems so excited with the exchange box, the language barriers have encouraged the children to learn English more seriously. These children of Sebangau know a lot about Australia, the culture and the place from the exchange activity, by having the replies from their penpals, it’s somehow motivating and encouraging.

These days, sending written letter is not a common thing and worse considered as old-fashioned. People tend to choose mainstream technologies to make some friends. However, we strongly believe that writing and story-making activities could help the children improve their skills besides its long yet fascinating waits from the penpals for the reply letters. Furthermore, we can also put culture-related objects inside the box so both parties can each learn about the culture.

By the end, we hope that this story could inspire your community, group, or school to start exchange box and share us the stories. We hope that you could also be our penpals, exchange the letters and cultures.

Letters and gifts inside the box
Photo by Desi Natalia | BNF