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Posted January 21, 2014

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PeacePal Program Provides Students Worldly Insights

Students at La Cueva become "PeacePals" to students in other countries including Nepal, Kenya, China and Afghanistan.

Project PeacePal, a non-profit organization founded right here in Albuquerque, was adopted into La Cueva High School an an extracurricular activity five years ago, and includes activities like letter exchanges and fundraising. This year, La Cueva was able to expand its letter-writing program and now has four classes writing to international partners in Afghanistan, China, Spain and Kenya.

The sponsor of the program, Gerri Barnhart, says that she began volunteering for PeacePal by way of the UNM Peace Studies Program. "While attending UNM, a fellow student and I had begun to develop a high school peace curriculum and this is one of the things Sarah Wilkonson, the founder of PeacePal, was interested in creating," said Barnhart. "Wilkinson and a couple of other teachers had begun to write lessons and I joined the team. I connected the lesson to the then Standards and Benchmarks. The curriculum has since been expanded and I have re-aligned them to the Common Core."

In addition to La Cueva's program, PeacePal has other APS chapters including Highland High School, Atrisco Heritage and the South Valley Academy.

"Watching the student’s reactions when they receive their PeacePal’s letter is like watching kids unwrap their favorite holiday package with excitement and joy," said Barnhart. "The use of technology and social media now allows us to include the use of 21st century skills with our students but does not replace the personal hand written letters, which we know increases the students comprehension level. "

The following video was sent to the La Cueva chapter of PeacePal from their Kenya pals and demonstrates that kinds of conversations and insights that this program is helping to create for the students.

 

Sample Letter Sample Letter 2Sample Letter 3

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