Students Make a Connection with Sierra Leone

Cathleen Ridder, Photography Editor

Freshmen students have begun to write letters to students in Sierra Leone, a country on the west-coast of Africa. A few years ago, this country was strife with civil war, which freshman students read about in the memoir A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah about his years as a boy soldier.


  Students have been working on their letters during Learning Seminar, and the letters were  shipped off to Sierra Leone during Thanksgiving break. The letters will be sent back and forth between Robinson and Sierra Leone at least three times. The letters will be sent to the children and orphans in Sierra Leone that the Thou Shall Eat Foundation, a christian organization that helps orphans and vulnerable children in Sierra Leone.  


  Senior Subeen Lee created the project, which was originally started as a club for kids “to empower each other in approaching reality” in that we are a lot more fortunate than we might think.

   Now unlike other projects in English Honors classes the letter writing project is completely optional, and it has little to no prompt at all.

“We’re not making it a mandatory assignment because that would ruin the essence of it” said English Teacher Heather Browne.

   The letters are supposed to not only be an interesting and fun experience, but also an educational and thought provoking one. The freshman English Honors students have the prompt: “how can we promote more empathy in humanity?” Browne believes that the letter writing will help the students have a deeper understanding and empathy for Beah in his memoir.


  The students are encouraged to write about their own stories in their letters, which might include their hobbies and favorite things; however, the bulk of their letters is expected to be written about a topic that is also creative and thoughtful.

“It’s a memorable experience to get to talk to somebody who hasn’t had the things that I’ve had, who hasn’t been as privileged as I have in life” said freshman Stefan Redinger-Ramos.


  The students are not only excited about the project, but they also recognize the gravity of the fact that they are getting the opportunity to learn so much about a different country from people who are actually living in it.

“I think it’ll help us increase empathy for humanity because we get to see the difference between our daily lives here and in our educational system,” said freshman Caroline Whitsed.


  This learning experience involves both learning the simple interesting facts about Sierra Leone and understanding the viewpoints of people from a completely different life from the students. The variety of different learning experiences expected from this project are acknowledged by both teachers and students alike.