Showing empathy through letter writing

Saturday September 12, 2020 Written by Published in Education
Some of the beautiful artwork sent to Mallacoota P-12 College students from Nukutere College students. 20091002, 20091130 Some of the beautiful artwork sent to Mallacoota P-12 College students from Nukutere College students. 20091002, 20091130

Nukutere College students bring joy and healing to their counterparts at Mallacoota P-12 College who suffered losses in Australian bushfire.

Letter writing is a novel and authentic art form that former Nukutere College teacher Cassidy Jackson-Carroll says seems like a lost skill these days.

Covid-19 has meant that Jackson-Carroll has not been able to return to Cook Islands from Australia.

However, while she was in the country she ran a whole topic on the Australian bushfires and had her students write letters to students at Mallacoota P-12 College who were affected by the fires in Mallacoota, Victoria.

Mallacoota is a rural beach town on the Victorian/NSW border.

Thousands of people taking refuge on a beach made Mallacoota the symbol of the devastation caused by the 2019-2020 bushfires.

“Mallacoota had a tough start to the year with fires and many losing houses,” Jackson-Carroll said.

“They are now in lockdown due to coronavirus in Victoria.”

Students in Mallacoota received letters and have since replied, Nukutere students got their letters earlier this week.

Nukutere students used the opportunity to express their heartfelt sadness for the losses the students and their families had suffered as a result of the fires.

They also shared fun facts about living and going to school on the beautiful island of Rarotonga.

As well as writing letters, the students created bright and colourful artworks.

Through their letter writing, Mallacotta P-12 College students asked questions like “do you have internet and social media and stuff?”.

They also talked about their families’ experiences during the bushfires and how some of them retreated to their boats to escape the flames.

When they returned to their homes, some found them burnt to the ground.

But they remained philosophical about the ordeal and were grateful to be alive.

Mallacoota P-12 College teacher Cassandra McNamara said her students were stoked to have received letters.

“Receiving a letter from a pen-pal in another country brought such joy and healing to our students,” she said.

“It has indeed been a challenging year for the small town of Mallacoota. These meaningful global connections are powerful.”

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