Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Friends all over the world

    Getting the mail at our house has become such an exciting endeavor the children fight over who gets to check the box everyday.  It is not that they are excited to peruse the mountains of junk mail that are stuffed there daily by our friendly postmistress.  It is not that they are anxious to collect the bills that seem to come in a never ending stream of white envelopes with little plastic windows either.  It is because lately, in the midst of the piles of boring deliveries there has been, for the child lucky enough to make it to the box first and brave enough to burrow through the store circulars, brochures, flyers, and requests for money, a few little postcards from exotic locations.  Yesterday we received one from Australia and one from Germany.  We don’t actually know anyone in Australia or Germany.  We don’t even have friends that have been traveling there on overseas vacations.  Yet, the postcards we received were addressed to us and included personal hand written notes. 
    So, how did our postcard pals from the other side of the globe ever find us?  From a little website we heard about recently that is connecting people from all over the world.  We discovered postcrossing.com after reading about it in a magazine.  The magazine featured an article about fun ways to teach children geography.  Postcrossing was just one of the suggestions.  It was, to us, the one that sounded the most fun, so we signed up.  I can not tell you how much we are all enjoying it.  I am so glad we decided to try it out, despite our fears about sharing our address with complete strangers around the world (as Tim pointed out our address is already on the internet, everyone’s is.  At least, postcrossing has allowed us to remain somewhat anonymous by making the use of real names optional and permitting usernames of our choosing instead).  You create a profile where you can share as much or as little as you want about yourself.   You can use your profile to request certain kinds of cards as well, though there is no guarantee your requests will be honored every time.
    You must send out a postcard before you are eligible to receive one.  So we requested our first address and sent off a card to far away Russia, hoping our words about life in Florida would be well received.  We quickly sent off 4 more cards, until we hit our limit of 5 traveling at a time.  It took awhile before we started to receive cards but finally one arrived from Great Britain, then another from the Netherlands, and then, yesterday, the two I mentioned from Australia and Germany. 
    So far, we have had no problems.  One of the address’ we were given to send a card to, included a profile asking for cards with pictures of tattoos.  Our children found this surprising and unusual but we simply explained that while we would never ever get a tattoo, other people had other ideas.  We sent her a card with pelicans on it.  Her message to us upon receiving the card was very sweet and appreciative.   
    It has been such a great way to learn about and connect with people from other lands.  I actually made up a jar of little slips of paper with ideas like: "learn about sports native to that country", "eat a food from that country", and "find out what their major industries are", written on them.  When we get a new card, we pull out a slip of paper and learn something extra about the country.  We have had English tea biscuits while listening to Beatles music, watched youtube videos of fierljeppen (a fascinating sport from the Netherlands), and learned about organic farming in Australia.  
    We love postcrossing.com!!!!

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