For young students, school shouldn’t just be about memorizing facts and taking tests—it should also be for developing an understanding and curiosity about the world around them.
That includes learning about other states and countries and the different cultures within them. Many kids aren’t very well-traveled, so exposure in schools can be important.
And one teacher found an inspiring way to teach her class about the whole world.
Lisa Burdick, a second grade teacher at Valley Forge Elementary School in Elizabethton, Tennessee, has been instructing her class about all the states in the U.S. as well as other countries.
But a simple piece of mail inspired her to turn the curriculum into something truly special.
It was a postcard from a local church. “They were wishing us well, thinking of us, and hoping we had a successful year,” Burdick told WBIR.
She hung the postcard on her classroom map, marking where it was sent from—their own state of Tennessee. But then, Burdick got an idea:
To get postcards from all over the U.S.!
“If we could get one postcard, let’s see if we could get the area of states around Tennessee,” Burdick said.
The project gained steam, and soon, people from all over the country were sending in postcards to the second grade class.
“We have a lot from New Jersey, California, Tennessee, Georgia,” Burdick said.
Soon, they had collected postcards from all 50 states!
But it didn’t end there.
Another teacher at the school, David Arwood, took an avid interest in the project.
“I was sort of like the students that would come everyday and say, Ms. Burdick, did you get any mail?” Arwood said.
Arwood saw that the project could be even bigger than the U.S., and with the 50 states complete he initiated the next part of the project:
To collect postcards from every country!
He reached out to online communities like Reddit to spread the word and hope people around the world would send cards—and people came through, big time.
“The response was overwhelming,” Arwood said.
The school has since gotten mail from over 125 countries and territories!
The project has gotten so big that it’s moved outside the original classroom into the school’s hallway.
And not just postcards—the school has also received letters from governors and ambassadors, and even stuffed animals.
The students particularly like the reindeer they received from Finland:
While the gifts and letters are fun, the important thing is that it’s making a real impression on these kids, who now want to travel around the world, even to unexpected countries like Oman (because it’s the only country that begins with the letter “O.”)
“These students know that there is a large world full of diversity,” Burdick said.
On top of that, it’s motivational to see these strangers around the world make it happen.
“People from all over the world cared enough about the students at Valley Forge Elementary to write them and send them postcards.”
“That’s pretty awesome.”