Pen pals over the seven seas: Bundi govt school get funds from California students

Kota: Funds received from a school in California has helped procure amenities for a government school and its students in Rajasthan’s Bundi district. The students of these two schools have been friends for around six years now.

Thirty six students of Class 6 of Olivihan Pioneer Elementary school in California are pen pals with around 40 students of the government school in Barundhan.

“The students of the California school organise a charity show in July before closure of the school in summers. They spend half of their earnings on their own school and the remaining money s sent for the government school of Barundhan,” Shobha Kanwar, a teacher of the government school told Hindustan Times. Kanwar is behind the pen pal initiative. “Pen friends of California school have so far donated around Rs 10 lakh since they became friends with our students,” she added.

Couple of months ago, a large tin shade worth Rs 6 lakh, covering a 45 foot by 75 foot area was erected in the school which brought an instant respite to the students during the peak summer months.

 “Apart from the shade, contribution from the pen friends of the California school have helped the school to purchase drinking water cooler, school furniture, slider, laptops, cement benches and decorative paintings ,” Kanwar added. It was also used for buying uniforms, bags, shoes and stationary items for the students.

This friendship started back in 2015 when Kanwar’s brother’s friend Jacob Dickinson came to Rajasthan. Both had been colleagues together in the past. Jacob’s father David Dickinson, who is also a school teacher in California, and other family members also came to Bundi and Kota during their Rajasthan visit. During that visit, Kanwar had invited them to visit the school.

After returning to California, David suggested to her to start pen friendship among students, she said. “David and I selected students from our respective schools for making pen pals and later asked students to write letters to their friends,” she told Hindustan Times.

The Rajasthan students wrote letters to their pen friends in Hindi which were translated for their American counterparts by Anjali Israni, mother of a student in the California school. “I also translated the letters from American students for the Barundhan students,” she said.

Anjali Israni, with the help of a few other parents, sponsored the education of around eight poor students on Baradhun school by offering USD 50 to each one of them.

Shobha Kanwar, too, has been sponsoring the education of some students of her school. “I do not have any children . So I have been sponsoring students from poor families since 2007 when I started working as a teacher. Last year, when I shared this with Anjali, she also decided to sponsor school education to some of the kids,” said Kanwar.

It is interesting to note that even though most of the pen pals have never met each other, they share a strong bond of friendship through the letters. One American student had visited Udaipur a couple of years ago and met around eight students and Kanwar.

 “I have a pen pal in California school named Taylor with whom I shared information about village life, family, festivals, sports and other aspects of my life while Taylor wrote about their culture, school, Christmas celebrations, study tours and other activities,” said 15-year-old Priya Panchal, a student of the Barundhan school.

“I am regular pen friend with Allex D for the last three years and we exchange our views through letters,” 11-year-old Siyaram told Hindustan Times.

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