In the months leading up to our arrival in Mauritius this summer, the Fellows have been exchanging letters with students at Etoile de Mer and Ecole de Fatima. Organized by Julia Bryzgalina, this Penpal program allows us to get to know the students on a more personal level before we begin to work in the schools and also helps them practice their English. All of the kids seem extremely excited to have this regular correspondence with the Fellows and to share their lives with us in their own words. While the older kids from Ecole de Fatima write about their families, favorite pastimes, and future aspirations, some of the younger kids send vibrant pictures that capture beautiful Mauritian scenes. Their letters give us a real feel for their day-to-day experience; many of the kids describe spending time at the beach and playing soccer, but also the programs they are enrolled in at school. Girls from Ecole de Fatima sometimes talk about the training they receive to be cooks and salon technicians, while the boys often talk about their desire to be mechanics or to find jobs in local hotels. Many already seem to have their professional goals clearly defined, and we’re looking forward to helping the kids attain the skills to meet those goals while at the same time making them aware of a wider array of possibilities.

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