A Humble Postcard Project in a Tennessee Classroom Turned Into a Global Exchange
The project started with a postcard. It arrived at Valley Forge Elementary School in Elizabethton, TN, addressed to the students there from a nearby church, wishing the school a successful year.
Next, the idea got a bit bigger. If the students could get a postcard from a church in town, thought their teacher, why couldn't they try exchanging postcards with the surrounding towns, too? And if they could get them from the surrounding towns, why not nearby states?
Soon enough, through word of mouth and outreach, the class had a map covered in postcards sent to them from all 50 states.
How big could it get, wondered another teacher, if they took the project online? The answer is: bigger than they dared to dream.
Lisa Burdick, the teacher who originally started the project, and her colleague David Arwood, turned to sites like Reddit and other social networks to request postcards from wherever the user reading the request might be.
"The response was overwhelming," David recalls. The class received postcards from 129 countries! Among the messages were cards from Ambassadors, mayors, and more, and Lisa's students dutifully added them to their expanding map.
"People from all over the world cared enough about the students of Valley Forge Elementary to write them... and that's pretty awesome," says Lisa, in a perfect summation of an inspiring project.