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Students connect with Vietnamese pen pals in cross-cultural learning

Posted at 8:19 AM, May 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-31 11:30:09-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Students at the Delta Academy in North Las Vegas are gaining an educational experience that extends beyond the classroom. Through a new pen pal program, they’re connecting with their peers in Vietnam.

“I haven’t really talked to anyone beyond the U.S.,” said Addie Christensen, a student at the Delta Academy.

Christensen said her teacher, Ms. Kendall, knew a teacher in Vietnam and together they initiated a pen pal program. Christensen and her classmates were all matched with students from The Ivy Global School in Vietnam, like Charlotte.

“I can say that she is truly a friend now,” Charlotte said. “Though we are 8,000 miles apart, our thoughts and our communication are conveyed through the same mind.”

Each pair of pen pals are close to the same age with common interests and the curiosity to learn about another culture, including what life is like in their respective countries as they navigate through the pandemic as an adolescent.

“Our first letters we talked about, like, just our hobbies and interests, our favorite food, where we lived, maybe our siblings, our family,“ Christensen said.

Christensen said there is a language barrier when it comes to slang words Americans use that the Vietnamese don’t use, but both students say what they're learning from their pen pal is invaluable.

“Experiencing cross-cultural differences offers me new perspective to life and helped me become more open-minded.”

Seeing a new perspective is exactly what administrators at the charter school in North Las Vegas say is the goal of the pen pal program.

“We have a ‘focused view’ in America and we don’t really consider a lot of other cultures,” said Delta Academy Superintendent Kyle Konold.

Konold said he remembers when he was in grade school, his pen pal was in Australia. However, he says that back then, he had to wait for the mail service to deliver his written letters. The students at the Delta Academy and the Ivy Global School communicate through email.

“This is a way that allows our students to experience a little bit of the culture in Vietnam,” Konold said.

No matter how they communication, what’s most important is that the students are forging a friendship that could last a lifetime.