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St. X Students Go Global with Virtual Pen Pals

Freshman+Korey+Tutt+is+asking+questions+to+the+students+at+St.+Xavier+in+Bungoma
Dr. Kendra Nolan
Freshman Korey Tutt is asking questions to the students at St. Xavier in Bungoma

St. X students are branching out internationally and collaborating with students at various schools. Dr. Kendra Nolan and Dr. Anne Bornschein have incorporated virtual and old-fashioned pen pals into their classrooms through modern technology, facilitating connections between their classes and students around the world.

The Black Student Union, led by Nolan, saw this as an opportunity to branch out to our brother school in Bungoma, Kenya. Various members of BSU ask questions on Zoom calls in order to learn more about life in Bungoma. These meetings serve as a way to keep the mission of the Xaverian Brothers alive and grow their understanding of Kenyan culture.

“I thought that it would be a great opportunity for the students of Black Student Union to connect and build relationships with other students that look like them and share a similar culture,” Nolan said. “The most rewarding element of our monthly meeting is the excitement and enthusiasm as each group learns about the other’s culture. They ask one another questions related to class schedules, extracurricular activities, plans after high school, their hobbies, talents and much more.”

BSU Members are meeting with students in Bungoma, Kenya (Photo courtesy of Dr. Nolan)

Members of the BSU have goals to visit Kenya one day and continue to positively impact each other in this effort.

“This is the greatest impact; our BSU students have been positively exposed to horizons beyond Kentucky and the United States,” Nolan added. “BSU students have been shown just a glimpse of their heritage and they are eager to learn more.”

Dr. Bornschein has incorporated pen pals with her French 1 students, which has grown students’ perspective on French language and culture. As new students to a world language, French 1 students can use these connections as a way to grow their knowledge of French.

“I love giving students an authentic opportunity to use their new language skills,” Bornschein said. “It brings the French language and culture directly into the lives of students who may never have interacted with a native French speaker before. I love watching students open their first letters from their pen pals. For a lot of students, that is a moment when French starts feeling real to them. It’s also great to see students take ownership of this project.”

Students in Dr. Bornschein’s classes are opening their pen pal letters (Photo courtesy of Dr. Anne Bornschein)

With students learning a new language, Dr. Bornschein wanted to motivate her students with this fun and engaging activity. And even though the idea of pen pals is fairly dated, the results are tried and true, going back to when Dr. Bornschein was a student.

“I had pen pals when I was learning French in high school, and they were a major source of motivation for me because I wanted to understand what they were saying in their letters,” Bornschein said. “I’ve organized a pen pal exchange every year since I started teaching at St. X.”

Whether it’s the BSU or French program, students are utilizing technology and relationships to connect with students around the world. This practice will continue to impact students one letter or Zoom call at a time.

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About the Contributor
Preston Dean, Staff Writer

Preston is a senior and swims for the two-time national champion Tiger Swim Team. Outside of school, he likes to spend time outdoors and hang out with friends. He’s traveled to many countries around the world and is on track to see the seven wonders. While Preston is not traveling, he is trying a new restaurant in the city as an avid foodie.