Mutual concerns with wildlife and conservation form the basis of our Pen Pal Program uniting young people from distant lands with a common interest serves to reinforce in all the participants the importance of their own valuable resources as seen through the eyes of students half a world away.
The pen pal program began at the inception of the Rural Outreach Program. Our first library was built in the village of Kahurura located at the forestry station on Mt. Kenya.
In this first effort we partnered the students of Kahurura School with the children of the Ascot Infant School in Ascot, England. The program was inspired by Roselle Cameron, who had a son named Duncan who was a student at Ascot Infant School. Ms. Powers and Mrs. Cameron discussed creating an activity to link the students of Duncan’s class with our students in Kenya, and together they came up with the idea of a pen pal program. At the same time, the William Holden Wildlife Foundation was building its first rural library at Kahurura and it seemed a perfect opportunity to attach a Pen Pal Program.
Long after Duncan graduated from Ascot Infant School the Headmistress of the school so loved the program that she personally continued encouraging pen pals between our students and hers. Sadly, Mrs. Cameron has passed away, but her son and her husband continue to be great supporters of our work and the Pen Pal Program that she inspired carries on in her memory. Today our policy is to have at least one pen pal class per rural outreach school.
WHWF President Stefanie Powers with the
Ascott Heath Infant School students (circa 1989)
Our education coordinators and the teachers must guide the students in the appropriate content for their letters, staying within the range of topics as follows:
Final approval of the content of the letters is the responsibility of the teachers and our education coordinators.
Our students in Kenya greatly enjoy having an international pen pal and we encourage the students to stay in touch with one another. It is important to remind the international students that in general the standard of living of the students they write to in Kenya is very different from their own, with considerably less privilege than they have. In addition, the technologies they enjoy are, in most cases, not available to their Kenyan counterparts and the students should approach the exchange of ideas with that understanding.
It has proven to be interesting for pen pals to describe what they do when they wake in the morning on an average school day as a comparison of lifestyles, as well as an interesting exercise in personal observations of their own world and the world around them.
If you are a teacher who would be interested in having your class of students participate in our Pen Pal Program, please email us at [email protected], or call our office at +1 (310) 274-3169, and we would be happy to answer any questions you have and send you our Pen Pal Protocol document for review. We will then see if we can match your students to a class of students at one of our rural outreach program schools.