As École acadienne de Truro students filed into the school’s theatre, a look of wonder and curiosity washed over their faces.
They had expected to be introduced to pen pals of the same age they had been corresponding with. Much to their surprise, area seniors were there to greet them instead.
Since March, fourth-grade students have been participating in a letter-writing project called The Bridge of Time. It allowed them to connect with a pen pal, “a 10-year-old from 1918.”
“The goal of the project was to explain to the kids of today the differences of everyday life between 1918 and 2018,” said Benoit Seveno, project coordinator for The Bridge of Time.
“In the end, six letters were sent back and forth between the kids and the participants. In the letters, they spoke of how life was in the past without things like computers, cars or TV. If a kid brought up a computer, the participant would respond with, ‘What’s a computer?’”
During the project, students were led to believe their pen pals had found a way to send letters to the future, allowing them to share stories with students of how life was a century ago.
However, students were really writing to local French-speaking seniors, who grew up without a lot of the comforts and conveniences young people have today. On Friday, the students met their pen pals for the first time.
“I think they will be quite excited to meet the people they’ve been writing to,” said Seveno, moments before the students gathered to meet participants.
“At least half of them, I feel, believed they were sending letters through time to kids their age a century ago. The other half were a bit more skeptical and said, ‘That’s not possible. There is no such thing as time travel.’”
And while surprised to discover their pen pals weren’t the same age, the students ran excitedly to meet the group of seniors, who’d brought along objects and pictures from their past.
“The goal of this project was to reinforce the link between generations,” said Seveno.
“We believe today, kids do not have much opportunity to speak with elders, and they don’t really know what life was like a century ago. I think it’s important because it not only helps strengthen our community, it also helps the kids learn about past generations and the changing times.”