Sarah Wilkinson, Founding Director
“At a time of increasing global challenges and threats such as inequality, exclusion, violence, and sectarianism worsened by local tensions and conflicts which undermine humanity’s cohesion, learning to live together among all members of the global community becomes more topical than ever before. “
– Irina Bokova, former Director-General of UNESCO
When I founded Global One to One in 2007 as Project PeacePal, I had no idea how large the organization would grow, or the broader impact it would have. While I believed there was a global thirst for intercultural connection at a personal level, it was stunning to experience the response from communities around the world. What began as a classroom experiment of pen pal letter exchanges between students in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S. and Kante, Togo swelled into a multinational program within two years. Since that time nearly 18,000 students in 29 countries have participated in the program, glimpsing the reality of shared humanity with people in places they had existed simply as distant stories.
There are no words to adequately describe what a student experiences when they hold in their hands a letter that was written just for them, by someone across the world. Even now, after all these years, I am often moved to tears when I see a student hold their first PeacePal letter: the look of awe on their face, their held breath, and body poised to walk through a portal into another person’s life. Suddenly, there is genuine curiosity- learning more about the home and community where their new friend lives, while looking at a map. It all comes alive. And the world is never quite the same again.
One of my greatest challenges has been to convey the depth and breadth of impact for this program. More times that I care to remember, it felt as if I was having my head patted by a sympathetic supporter responding to what they perceived as “a sweet little pen pal program”. In the subsequent years, Global One to One has published newsletters and expanded our social media presence, built–and restructured–numerous iterations of our website. While these provide essential information and visual representations of what the program is about, the dynamic spirit of the real impact on human beings has yet to be communicated.
This blog is intended to connect those who are already part of the Global One to One community, as well as those who are interested in learning more, to those who are immediately impacted by the vibrant human aspect of this experience.
The voices heard here will be the teachers, students, exchange participants, volunteers, and families describing the personal impact of this program in their own lives. Posts will include tips and best practices from educators and group leaders, insights from participants and volunteers, examples of the beautiful, poignant, funny, and yes, even sweet letters written by students.
Join us in our 2019-2020 journey as we utilize this platform to share the joys and challenges we face as individuals and communities to create connections that effectively transform strangers into friends. We invite you to stay up to date on current and upcoming events and international cultural exchanges.
“I am grateful every day that I have been able to be a part of this opportunity, for I truly believe in what it stands for: the unification of students around the world.”
–Teacher at Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School
Check out our website for more about Global One to One and our programs here as well as follow our social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more updates, as well as subscribe to our email list at the bottom of this blog’s homepage to get notifications when new posts go live.