Friday, August 1, 2014

Korean Sister School

During the summer of 2004 our school had the opportunity and privilege to participate in an international exchange of friendship with Gunam Elementary School from Seoul, Korea.  As ambassadors we hosted eighteen Korean students, their principal and teachers who traveled to our school to present a Tae Kwon Do demonstration.  The finale was the signing of a Sister School Treaty with the hopes of developing further relations in the form of pen pal correspondence, art exchange/exhibit and travel between the two schools. This event was just the beginning of a journey of international friendship filled with many treasured memories for everyone involved.

Upon returning to school, P.B. Smith students received hundreds of letters from Seoul.  Our students' enthusiasm towards reading and writing improved significantly.  Students began exchanging artwork as well and our Sister School Project took on a life of its own!

In January 2005, twenty Korean students and six teachers arrived from one of the largest cities in the world to spend two weeks in the rural community of Warrenton.  They lived with families from P.B. Smith and went to school each day with their new friends.  Planned, were expeditions to New York City, Washington D.C. and Baltimore. The Koreans returned home with many fond memories of their host families and the American way of life.  Then it was our turn for international adventure!

Accepting an invitation to travel to Gunam in the summer of 2005, the five teachers set off on a fantastic journey to Asia's best kept secret- South Korea.  They lived with Korean families, attended school each day, and toured the country.  The Korean families were gracious hosts and gave the teachers an everlasting gift, one of true friendship. 

Since then, Korean students and teachers traveled to the United States in January and August of 2006, staying with families from P.B. Smith.  Students from P.B. Smith continued their long distance friendship through the exchange of pen pal letters and artwork. 

Throughout the school year, students have shared their ideas, thoughts and interests about themselves with new friends. Our students have demonstrated a sense of pride when giving a written description or pictorial view of their family, their home and their country.  They also learned that their friends across the world had very similar thoughts about their family, their home and their country.  During the holiday season, students exchanged photos, cards and little gifts with their pen pals.  The popular gifts received by our students were packages of Korean gum, which tastes like green tea, intricate origami ornaments and key chains.  As a result of this exchange, our students have become more excited about reading and writing. Imagine that!

Through our Sister School Project, we have developed a wonderful relationship with the students, teachers and parents at Gunam Elementary School.  By utilizing advanced technology, we can use this website to experience the differences and similarities in cultures. We can all become collaborative members of an international team, working together to make positive contributions towards long lasting friendships across the world.  Students at P.B. Smith are our future ambassadors for world friendship!