The Beginning of Ono and Volvic’s Exchange
As two famous water cities,
Ono and Volvic’s middle school students started a pen pal exchange.
They will send letters three times this school year and increase their exchange later.
Through this project, the students had the possibility to discover a new culture
and open their minds to the world, while having a chance to improve their English.
Art and Stone Masonry Institute Meeting about aquatic resources protection Reception
Everything started with the visit to Volvic city in November 2017.
One delegation from Ono visited Volvic for a conference about water resource protection.
It was the occasion for the two cities to exchange
about municipal actions concerning water protection：
Ono city blessed by abundant groundwater introduced the Carrying Water Project’s actions, and Volvic famous for its mineral water presented their city policies
for the preservation of Volvic’s natural reservoir.
Then, Volvic’s Mayor and other local representatives
guided Ono’s delegation around the city to welcome them.
In order to extend this exchange to their respective citizens,
the cities planned to organize a pen pal project.
Ono city hall started to recruit volunteers and formed a group of 26 students,
who applied only with the wish of making foreign friends
even if they are not good at English.
Besides, Miss Calipel from Victor Hugo Middle School in Volvic
found it to be a great occasion to enrich her English pedagogic practices,
and decided to work on this exchange with her English European section class.
Since the summer of 2018,
Ono middle school students have been gathering at the city hall
to write letters to Volvic middle school students.
They have been doing their best to surpass linguistics difficulties
and transmit what they want to say in English
through pictures, illustrations, videos, et cetera.
First, the middle school students introduced themselves with the theme « This is me ».
Ono students draw their own portraits and wrote together one greeting letter.
Then the students brainstormed in groups about different attractive aspects of Ono city,
like famous places and food, and had to write it on notes.
Brain storming about Ono
They chose their favorite attractive aspect out of all their notes,
and made it their mission to write a letter about it to Volvic students.
While referring to dictionaries and touristic brochures about Ono in English,
middle school students wrote one letter to introduce Ono city’s charms through illustrations as a part of the topic « This is where I live ».
They encountered difficulties with expressing themselves in English
“How can I explain what taro is?”
“How can I say that the dark sky is beautiful there?“,
but on the other hand they were excited about these new links.
Portraits and letters were sent in October.
Each student received after that one letter addressed personally from their pen pal.
Looking at the letters, the students reacted
“Oh, they wrote in cursive!”
and were surprised by the different handwritings, papers, and envelopes.
They all opened the letters
and discovered the pictures of their pen pals with great enthusiasm.
In the letters, Volvic students described themselves with precision
and talked about their friends and families.
Ono students deciphered the English
and were amazed with the details of the decryptions：
« My lips are thin »,
« My eyes are brown »
« I don’t have freckles ».
This is how they were linked for the first time,
and exchange will continue.
In order to have a memory of these exchanges,
they will keep all the letters they received in a memonto note.
The next month,
they wrote a letter to answer their pen pal’s questions.
To memorize the face of their pen pal,
the students played a game prepared by Miss Calipel’s class：
Volvic students sent us one class photo
and recordings of each student introducing themselves.
Ono students had to find their pen pal in the photo
by listening to the recordings.
Meanwhile, Volvic students work on this pen pal project as a part of their English classes. When they received letters from Ono
they have to report the content of their pen pal in front of the class.
When Miss Calipel’s class saw the letters from Ono,
they thought the handwritting is so clean that it was typed on computer.
Volvic students were intrigued with the school uniforms.
At the end of December,
the students wrote about their best memories of the year,
their resolutions for the new year,
and explained a little about the Japanese tradition of New Year’s Cards.
They created a Japanese style card and drew on it illustrations of Mount Fuji,
wild boars, and so on in bright colors.
In exchange, Volvic students sent Christmas cards
and new year greetings through online messages.Next, middle school students from both cities will introduce their schools through the theme « This is my school ».
Volvic students sent letters about their daily life at Victor Hugo Middle School.
Ono students read their letters and were surprised about all the school differences,
“My pen pal finishes their homework in 30 minutes!!“,
“They have a lot of holidays!!“
“They wear normal clothes at school“.
Kamishô Middle School students introduced their school by creating a power point.
Other schools will present some aspects of Japanese schools with videos
introducing the school festival,
the coming of age ceremony for middle school students,
and lunch time at school.
At the end of March,
they will meet for the first time on Skype.
They are a little afraid,
but also really excited.
This is how two water cities far away from each other
were linked by middle school student pen pal exchanges.
With these exchanges, the students made new friends,
surprised themselves with cultural differences,
and had fun while using English.
Next year, the two cities plan to increase their cultural exchange efforts.