Africa & The Middle East | People & Stories

How we're connecting kids around the world through our pen pal project

Recently updated on January 4th, 2024 at 06:17 pm

Trafalgar Travel is part of The Travel Corporation (TTC), an international travel company made up of thousands of passionate people, working in hundreds of offices across the world. As a family-run business that’s passionate about connecting with people and learning about different cultures, we wanted to connect kids internationally through TTC’s network of offices, and the idea for a pen pal project was born. We talked to Morgane Hartshorne from our Geneva office to find out more about how the pen pal project and how it came about.

1. What is the pen pal project, and how did it come about? 

During Children’s Mental Health Week last February, I wanted to organise something as I am both part of the Parenting and Mental Health & Wellbeing communities. I explored quite a few ideas and initially wanted to do something to raise awareness highlighting this specific week. As I combed through ideas, I remembered my own experience of having pen pals growing up… The excitement of receiving a letter with your name at the mailbox, the writing, the discovery, the wait, the fun! I thought this ticked all the boxes and we have huge potential with our large Travel Corporation network. 

It took quite a while to plan, between thinking and creating the adequate systems, the design, and the communications, but with the help of the amazing Annaliesa Chapman and her wonderful team, and Ariana Ambrutis who helped me put my vision into a design and created the actual form, the Pen Pal Project (PPP) was finally launched on the 27th April.

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TTC pen pal project letters

2. Why was it important to you to connect TTC kids? 

I feel like with this very uncertain time we live in, the education of our future generation is key. With the love of travel and discovery of the world that we share between TTC employees, it would be such a waste not to use this opportunity and give our kids a head start in life, and learn about each other and other cultures. They can be open to the world without necessarily needing to travel physically but still away from screens.

TTC pen pal project letters

3. How has it been received so far? 

So far so good! We had over 100 entries and sign-ups in less than a month, with most already paired up. With the busy summer time some kids left letters later than they would have liked to send them, but this project is made to last so there’s no rush in sending letters. Back in the day, it would have taken far longer to receive. It stills take time with some country’s postal system but the most important is that the letter is received in the mailbox in the end. I even got a “drawing pal” for my 2.5-year-old in South Africa. This is fun too!

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4. What is the “farthest-flung” pen pal connection?

We have all the connections imaginable; New Zealand to the United Kingdom and Switzerland, South Africa to the United States and Hong Kong, and Australia to the United States and the United Kingdom.

TTC pen pal project letters

5. What are the plans for the future of the project?

We are still navigating this new initiative at the moment, with no plans of expanding quite yet. Once we have a solid long-lasting system in place, we would love to investigate the idea of extending it to our guests’ kids!

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6. What are you most proud of with this project? 

The enthusiasm of all the amazing people who have been more than supportive, and all the TTC kid’s allies who were as excited as their kids, and put so much fun and meaning into it!

Have you ever had a pen pal? Share your stories in the comments below!

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