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Students from Odessa, Texas, become pen pals with students from Odesa, Ukraine

Students from Odessa, Texas, become pen pals with students from Odesa, Ukraine

A new pen pal program has connected students from Odessa, Texas, with students from war-torn Odesa, Ukraine.

Since connections began in December, hundreds of students a world apart are sharing their experiences and building friendships, according to Ector County ISD.

The program involves students in Mikel Crowder’s World Georgraphy class at Odessa Collegiate Academy (OCA), who were matched with students from Odesa, Ukraine. The students regularly communicate by mail or email. Meanwhile, the OCA students are provided classroom materials on current events in Ukraine.

Part of the program’s aim is to inspire learning, and also to lift the spirits of young people in Ukraine, according to the school district.

“The kids say their communication has become less formal and more like interacting with a friend.”

“They’re realizing that kids are kids no matter where we live,” said Mr. Crowder. “The kids in the Ukraine have many of the same thoughts, wants, and desires that we do. The kids say their communication has become less formal and more like interacting with a friend.”

The pen pal program was inspired and assisted by Ukrainiain-born Dr. Vasyl Taras, a professor of business at the University of Northern Carolina at Greensboro.

Chris Mead, retired senior VP of the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, introduced the program to the Odessa Chamber of Commerce last fall, according to Ector County ISD. Mead has been working to expand the program, which said involved 350 students — half Ukranian, half American — as of Feb. 4, according to Ector County ISD.