Toby’s first letter to China actually went to Hong Kong and his contact there, Ti Wei, wrote her response in both English and Mandarin. He became fascinated by the language and culture. In summer 2014 Sheffield had a Chinese summer school, where children could spend a week learning a bit of Mandarin, but also try dancing, food, watch films and make art. It was run by the Confucius Institute, who help people all over the world learn Chinese.
Toby loved it, and asked to keep up with lessons. He has been learning Mandarin ever since, and is loving it. To make sure mainland China is also represented, we are also sharing some letters from the International School of Wuxi. China is one country Toby is definitely planning to visit when he is older.
Hong Kong: Ti Wei’s postcard sparked Toby’s fascination with the Mandarin language and it continues to this day. He is desperate to visit China so that he can practice what he’s learnt!
Letter to the International School of Wuxi
How are you? What is your school like? Have you been to the Grand Buddha at Ling Shan? What do you do after school? What food do you eat?
Response from Miss McKee and the kindergarten class
Thank you for letting us participate in this project!
We are the only kindergarten class in our school (small school). There are 15 kids in our class from 5 different countries – China, America, Japan, Korea & Hong Kong.
Our school is from 9:15 – 3:30 every day, and everyone eats the school’s lunch.
We have classes for kids from 3 years old to 12th grade.
I have not been to the Grand Buddha at Ling Shan, but I think some of our high-school students went there on a field trip a few years ago for one of their classes. We have many types of food served in our cafeteria from our 3 biggest represented countries – Korea, China & America. We eat lots of rice (every day), soup (every day) and other things like pizza, stir-fry, bulgogi (Korean dish of beef, onions, carrots and sauce), meats, breads and so much more.
I have included some pictures for you as well. The really big one is from November on Inter- national Day. We dress up in an outfit from our home country. The one with 4 ladies in dresses is also from International Day. Since America doesn’t have a traditional outfit, we wore historical dresses. I’m on the left in a Colonial America dress, the next lady is wearing a Pilgrim’s outfit, the next is a Pioneer outfit, and then another Pilgrim outfit.
Under that is 5 of our teachers at a place called Moon Hill in Yangshuo, China. VERY gorgeous place! The last page is from a cave we (the 5 teachers) visited. They have colorful lights shining on some of the rock formations. The one on the bottom is supposed to look like a peacock . . .
Once again, thank you for letting us participate in your Writing to the World project!! You are a very ambitious young man!
Zài jiàn! (Goodbye!)
Nín de péng yo ̆u (your friends), Miss McKee’s kindergarten class (Jaden, Viviana, Shekinah, Kensuke, Kai, Dana, Hiroshi, Ava, Ethan, Ji Won, Lucy, Scarlett, Amy, Sarah & Ilir)
Toby has written quite a few letters to India – eventually he is hoping to cover all states and territories, like he did with the USA, Canada and Australia. It is very hard to choose a letter, so we are sharing the first. Ramesh and his daughter gave Toby a lovely introduction to such a diverse country, and Tanya sent us lots and lots more information – we don’t think Toby will ever get bored with India!
India: One of Toby’s letters went to Tanya in New Delhi. She sent us lots and lots of information, including a letter decorated with a traditional Indian block print (below)
Letter to Ramesh
How are you? Did you get coloured powder thrown at you at the Holi festival? Have you been inside the Charminar?
Response from Ramesh
Wish you a very happy new year.
Thank you for writing to me.
India is a very big united country that is culturally divided into many regions. North India, North-east India, East India, South-west India, West India and Central India. Each of the above regions in India have their own language, food and weather.
Some festivals are celebrated across the entire country. And some festivals are celebrated only in a few parts of the country. The festival of colours (called Holi) is usually celebrated in the north and west of India. The festival of lights (called Diwali) is celebrated in most parts of India, but not in some parts of south India. The festival of harvest is celebrated across all parts of India under different names.
Christmas is celebrated across all India. I hope you had a good Christmas. What did Santa Claus gift you?
I am sending you a book on India and I hope you will like it. I am also sending you a map of India where I have pointed out the city I live.
I had been inside Charminar a few years ago.
We couldn’t believe it when James got in touch, and we still can’t get over his amazing kindness. James works at the South Pole Research Station, and he went above and beyond to help Toby with his project. Not only did he send a wonderful letter explaining his research and life at the South Pole, he also took pictures of the letter arriving, and of himself holding it.
Then, as Toby’s sixth birthday was near, he painted a large banner saying Happy Birthday, Toby and got the whole team to stand and hold it at both South Poles, and sent the pictures to us. He included the banner in his return letter. We don’t think we’ll be able to ever top this birthday present!
Antarctica: James and his colleagues at the Antarctica research station gave Toby one of the best birthday presents ever – they sent him a special banner along with photos of it being held up at the South Pole!
Letter to James
How are you? Why do we need to know about tiny particles in space? Have you seen the Aurora Aus- tralis? Are there any children at the South Pole? What do you do for fun? Do you play in the snow? Where do you get your food from? Have you seen a penguin? Are there any palaeontologists working at the South Pole?
Response from James
I’m excited about your curiosity about the world and the people in it! I imagine you have learned a lot about the world. We need to know about tiny particles a lot, like you want to know about the world. Scientists want to understand about the universe and how it was made. The neutrinos that we study can carry with them information about how they were made. We will learn more about the universe by looking at the sky and seeing tiny particles instead of light.
I’m only at the South Pole during the summer when there are 24 hours of sunlight a day. I have not seen the Aurora Australis, but I have sites I go to see in the northern Arctic. I have seen the Aurora Borealis! It is beautiful!
There are no children at the South Pole. The South Pole could be a dangerous place for kids. There have been children in other parts on Antarctica. One child was even born in Antarctica. Only scientists and the people that keep the station running live here. A few people spend the dark winter here. Nobody can get in or out during the cold, dark winter.
You asked what I do for fun. Yes, sometimes we do play in the snow. Sometimes people make sculptures out of snow blocks. Most of the time we stay inside. We have a gym and a lounge where we can play pool or watch a movie. There is no TV down here. Some people cross-country ski. Last year I played golf outside. I’m sure glad they had an orange ball.
Almost all of our food is flown in on the same airplanes I fly here in. Most of the food is frozen until we need it. They can bring in fresh fruit and vegetables during the summer. We call them ‘freshies’. We also have a small greenhouse where we can grow veggies for the winter people.
I have seen penguins! They are cool! Ha! Cool, get it? This year I saw two emperor penguins.
I do not know of any palaeontologists at the South Pole. They study prehistoric life. Nothing but us science people lives at the South Pole. It is too cold and dry to support life, so there is no food for animals. The ice is 3,000 kilometers deep here. Antarctica was once a warm place, though. If there was life, it would be deep under the ice. I’m sure there are palaeontologists in other places in Ant- arctica where there is not so much ice. They would want to know about early life in Antarctica.
I hope that you stay interested in science! Maybe one day you will be able to come to Antarctica! Stay curious! You’ve done a wonderful job! I hope you have inspired some other children to do amazing projects and look out at the world around them.
Best of luck in your future!
South Pole Station Summer 2013/14