In 2001 high school students from Auburn, Maine and Avellaneda, Argentina began a correspondence and a friendship that continues today.
Spanish teacher Pam Davis and English teacher Claudia García found each other through epals.com, an online service that matches teachers and classes around the world, and with a grant from the Perloff Family Foundation, the Edward Little High School students began studying Argentine culture and exchanging emails, pictures and mementos with their pen pals in Argentina.
At the end of that first school year, the American teacher traveled to Argentina to meet her new friend and visit the Argentine students and their school. With her she took a new laptop computer, a gift from the students at Edward Little High School. The Argentine students had so many questions, both about American life and about their pen-pals back in Maine. The next September, a new group of students continued to write and share experiences, and with another grant from the Perloff Family Foundation, the Argentine teacher was able to visit Maine and teach at Edward Little High School for two weeks. Claudia was the first Argentine the students had ever met, and a very real connection to their new friends there.
Both teachers have traveled to each other's countries again since, and several of the American "alumni" of this experience have gone on to major in Spanish in college and to travel to Argentina.
This past year, with a new group of students, the correspondence has taken a new step: video tours and letters. (With two cameras supplied by the Perloff Family Foundation and lots of support from the school systems involved, the American and Argentine students can see one another's schools, hear jokes, give the latest news and finally see and hear each other as they communicate.)
Both teachers and all students involved in this correspondence would like to thank the Perloff Family Foundation and especially Dave and Sandy Perloff for their interest and their support of new ideas in public schools!