Thursday, March 31, 2011

Letter #81 from Slovenia

Letter #81 comes from Michaela in Slovenia.She says her friends call her Misa (sounds like Misha).She says she shares a birthday with the first Czech president,Vaclav Havel and two great Canadian hockey players,Mario Lemieux and Patrick Roy.She lives in a spa town called Karlovy Vary,which lays on the western side of the Czech Republic and has +/- 55,000 inhabitants.She also says that every July in her hometown is the International Film Festival.She loves the festival and says last year she watched 13 films in 9 days,although her record is 15 films in 2008. :)

Michaela now lives in Ljubljana because she is attending the University of Ljubljana where she will spend one semester.She is a student of Slovonic studies of European Union and History at the University of Parduice,which is located on the eastern part of the Czech Republic.She is in her second year of school.She says she would like to be a historian in the future.She is also interested in balneology,which is all about spas,spa treatments,etc.I would guess it has a lot to do with where she lives. :)

She loves ice hockey and her favorite teams are the Toronto Maple Leafs and Energie Karlovy Vary.It seems we have a Canadian theme going today. :) She also loves listening to music,reading books,travelling,swapping, and writing letters.

She can speak a few different languages,such as Czech,English and a little French.She would also like to speak German since she is interested in 19th century German history.

She also shared some facts about Slovenia:
•Original name: Republika Slovenija
•Area: 20,253 km
•Population:+/- 2,019,000
•Capital city:Ljubljana
•President:Danilo Turk
•Prime minister:Borut Pohor
•Neighboring coutries: Austria,Italy,Croatia and Hungary
•Bigger towns: Maribor,Kranj,Celje

Thanks Michaela for your lovely letter and postcards.See her letter and postcards below:

Letter #80 from Canada

Letter #80 comes from Robert in Canada.He lives in a small town called Timmins,Ontario.He started off by telling us the good things about his city:
•It's easy to get around by car,he can get from one end of the town to the next in 25 minutes
•There are no long lines at the stores
•Not much traffic
•It's surrounded by nature and is a fairly safe city

Now on to the negatives of his city:
•Not much to do,limites restaurants and no galleries or museums
•You always run into people you know,which can be both positive and negative
•The weather is awful!Cold winters with lots of snow,so it's very depressing!

He lives with the same belief that we do,just make the best of it until something better comes along.Robert says he's a busy guy and is always on the go.He spends his weekends on postcrossing and doing mail art.He also likes to meet his friends at the coffee shop.His new hobby of mail art keeps him busy,as does his blog.

Robert also likes video games and old movies.He doesn't like the more recent movies that Hollywood puts out.He also likes nature and the outdoors.He says he can't wait till summer so he can hit the beach and start hiking and running.He loves running so much that he signed up for a 5k obstacle race in July (good luck on your race),he says he didn't realize how intense the race would be and he's a little nervous,but I'm sure he'll do just fine!As he says in his letter,he is on a "runners high" so take it as far as you can!He has ran 5k's,10k's and half marathons.He likes the half marathons the most.He hopes to run a full marathon one day,but it's hard for him to stay focused on a training plan....I say if you want something bad enough,you gotta work hard at it and sacrifice everything for it,give it your all and you can be successful at anything if you try hard enough.

Robert has also enclosed some wonderful postcards along with his letter,which you can see below:

Letter #79 from California

Letter #79 comes from Beverly in California.She says she is retired and loves writing letters.She lives in Davis,which is a university town about 20 miles from the state capital,Sacramento.Her town is known as the city of bicycles because the town is flat and since there are wide bike lanes,everybody likes to ride bikes.Her town has about 60,000 inhabitants,but she says it feels like a small town.She also says that the university has one of the best veterinary medical schools in the country.They were even able to uncross the eyes of Clarance the cross-eyed lion there.

She has enclosed a postcard of one of her favorite national parks,Sequoia Kings Canyon,where you can find the oldest and biggest trees in the world.She told us that the tallest trees are the California Coast Redwood trees.She also told us something really cool that we have seen on tv,the sequoia trees are so big that if you cut a hole in the middle of the tree,you can drive a car through it!I just find that so amazing as did my girls.Can you even imagine seeing a tree that big!She says that cutting a hole in it doesn't kill the tree because the growth of the tree comes from the outside.Another interesting fact we didn't know. :)

Beverly currently works as a theatre critic.She says that many people think it's a great job because she gets to see all the shows for free,but she says the hard part of the job is that she has to sell all the shows,whether she wants to or not.When she gets home from the movies,she has to write the reviews so people can decide to watch it or not.I think it sounds like a great job (at least when the shows are good) and a helpful job because in our economy,I don't think anybody wants to spend their hard earned money on a terrible show,so reading the reviews could help people make a better decision about whether to watch a certain show or spend their money elsewhere.

Beverly has three grown children and one grandchild.Her and her husband also have three dogs that came from the SPCA.She fosters dogs for the SPCA and has watched more than 150 dogs go off to their forever homes.She loves the little orphaned puppies that she has to bottlefeed.Aww,that sounds so cute.

Thanks Beverly for your lovely letter and postcards.Please see her letter and postcards below:

Letter #78 from Russia

Letter #78 comes from Diana in Russia.She lives in the ancient city of Veliky Novgorod in modern Russia.She says that in everyday life there are several traditions.For example,she says that children can live with their parents until their marriage,which is usually between the ages of 23-25.

She also tells us that  a lot of Russians have a cottage or "dacha" with a vegetable garden and Russian baths.They grow a lot of different vegetables and fruits and enjoy making marinades and jams with them.They like to eat it in winter time.

In Russia tea is served after meals and during mid-afternoon breaks.Instead of having the English "five-o'clock tea",they have tea at any time during the day and anywhere,even in their car,that's how much they love tea.When friends visit somebody,their hosts greets them with a cup of tea and cookies,sandwiches,or other goods.Each feast ends with tea drinking and cakes and candies.They also love to add honey to their tea,it isn't put into the glass with the tea,but served in a bowl or special vase.Russians also enjoy lemon with their tea.

She also told me something really interesting,that Russians really love to read books and will usually read on public transportation.You don't see many people read in public here.I think that is really great because it becomes a great habit for everybody.She also told us that Russian baths is an ancient part of their way of life.It's the best way to communicate with friends.

Kvass is the Russian national beverage,sometimes called a bread drink in English because it is a fermented beverage made from black or regular rye bread.The color of the bread affects the color of the drink.It is usually flavored with strawberries or mint.

Diana says that Russian culture is rich in different traditions including winter folk amusements:troika sleighing,skiing,skating and sledding,dancing near the open fire,telling fortunes at Christmas-tide, and meeting the Ded Moroz.

She says that Ded Moroz is a fictional character similar to Santa Claus.He is said to deliver gifts in person at New Year's Eve parties and other New Year celebrations.Russia is an orthodox country with a lot of Christian holy days,but there are some other non-Christian holidays,too.One of them is Ivan Kupala,which has been celebrated since ancient times at the end of June.On that day,people wear girths of flowers and wreaths of herbs.They sing songs,stoke bonfires with poles topped by a burning wheel,the symbol of the sun.On Ivan Kupala,girls make wreaths of herbs and in the evening,float them in water.If the wreaths sink,it's the end of love and there will be no wedding.Nobody sleeps during the night of the holiday because it is believed that all evil became active since it's also the day when the evile beings (witches,vampires,etc) have their holiday,too and would try to cause as much harm to humans as possible.

Diana says that the most cheerful hoiday in Russia is Maslenitsa.The rituals are very unusual and interesting because they combine the end of the winter holiday rituals at the opening of new spring festivals and ceremonies,which were to promote a rich harvest.It is celebrated during the week preceding Lent.Now they only celebrate the holiday on the last day,which is a Sunday and the day was named "forgiveness" because people ask each other for forgiveness for all the trouble,etc they have put on others.To say goodbye to Maslenitsa they have a solemn burning of the stuffed figure of winter.Everybody bakes a lot of pancakes with different fillings,such as meat,caviar,salmon,cabbage,mushrooms,sour crea,honey,jams,etc.I have never tried a filled pancake but actually saw a baking pan for those types of pancakes and was quite curious about them.Maybe one day I will try making some.

Diana says that Russians are very superstitious people.There are many spirits they believe in,such as domestic spirits and domestic spirits.

Diana has also been so kind to print out some Russian fairy tales for us to read,which we loved.They are called The Little Round Bun and Masha and the Bear.She was even kind enough to send us the book of the Russian fairy tale called Masha and the Bear since we are trying to collect children's books in different langauges.Thanks so much Diana for your lovely letter and  beautiful book that we will treasure!See her letter and book below:

Letter #77 from Canada

Letter #77 comes from Kelly in Canada.She lives in Camrose,a city of about 1,700 people and is located about an hour southeast of Edmonton,which is their provincial capital.She often goes to Edmonton to shop,go to concerts and attend sporting events.Her brother and her like to see the Edmonton Oilers hockey games.She has also been to a lot of concerts,seeing groups like Brooks and Dunn,ZZ Top and more.She really loves the music that came out before the 1980's.She says that if the singers aren't old enough to be her parents,then she doesn't listen to them because she doesn't like the more current music.

Kelly also plays the flute in the Camrose District Community Band.They are a group of non-professional musicians who play concerts for the public at different times throughout the year.When she wrote the letter,she was preparing to play at their annual formal concert at the university,which is where they get the best audience.Their members range in age 18-80.She says they had a person who was 91 that played the clarinet,but had to stop when he became ill.

Kelly loves to watch tv and read books.She says she will pretty much read anything,but her favorite genre is mysteries and non-fiction.She also loves reading about history.Lately she has been reading about the American Civil War.

During the summer she loves to go on road trips,it doesn't matter if it's only for a few days,she just loves to get away.She has taken us a on a little "tour" of Alberta.She first tells is about Banff and Jasper National Parks.Driving through the Canadian Rockies on the Icefields Parkway between the towns of Jasper and Banff has one of the best tours she says we can take.She says you can take a special bus that will take you right up to the glacier.There are also several lakes and waterfalls that you can also see.Both Jasper and Banff have a tram that will take you up a mountain for fantastic views.They also have great resorts for people who like to ski.

If you visit the town of Drumheller,you'll find lots of dinosaur and other fossils that have been discovered.The Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology is located there.There are some awesom dinosaur skeletons,dioramas and fossil displays there to see.There are even dinosaur statues throughout the city.You can even go inside the dinosaur statue at the Drumheller tourist information center and walk up to the viewing platform,which is in the dinosaur's mouth.

Kelly says that for some reason Alberta has a lot of towns that have interesting statues or some type of roadside attractions.Last summer she went on a little tour of southeastern Alberta to try to see as many of them as she could and she shared some of the pictures of them with us in her letter.She even bought a stuffed Ernie to that goes on family trips and is photographed everywhere he goes.She says that Ernie is quite busy.He's even going to Hawaii!

She also said that if you go to Canada,you have to stop at Tim Horton's (we had one on our city in Michigan,but not down here in VA).She also noted that the area northeast of Camrose was settled by lots of Ukranian immigrants,so you can see some statues that represent their presence in the area.She has also taken a picture with a goose statue in the town of Hanna,where she says the band Nickelback is from.

Kelly also tells us that Camrose is known for the Big Valley Jamboree,a three day outdoor country music festival.It has been going on fr 18 years now.There have been many country stars that have performed there over the years,such as Keith Urban,Brooks and Dunn,Randy Travis and many more.Also,in Edmonton,you can visit the West Edmonton Mall,she enclosed a directory to the mall and I must say there were a lot of great stores there that made me want to take a trip there.I wish we were back in Michigan so we would be a lot closer.There is even an amusement park and waterpark in the mall!How cool is that!?She says she is going to play tourist in Edmonton this year.She said something I really agree with,which is that we often look for places to visit outside our city or nearby areas and we miss out on some great things that are basically in our own backyard.I know there were many places we wished we would have visited while in Michigan,but we would go to Ohio or visit Chicago so we could see another state.Now I wish we would have spent more time exploring Michigan because they have a lot of great things to see.

Kelly enjoys plants and works in a flower shop.She would like to visit the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton,which has four huge glass pyramid-shaped greenhouses that each feature different types of plant displays.

Along with Kelly's lovely letter,which she also wrote on a cute paralymic games card (we love cute olympic characters),she also enclosed a couple of brochures and some postcards and even a picture of the Olympic torch that went down main street in Camrose during the cross Canada torch relay.Thanks Kelly for the lovely letter and goodies.Enjoy all of her goodies below:

Letter #76 from Malaysia

Letter #76 comes from Jihan in Malaysia.She is married with 3 sons (2 of them are twins).She works as a teacher at a primary school for pupils ages 7-12.She's been teaching for about 10 years now.She is now applying to the university to further her studies.

Jihan lives in a small town with her parents.She says Kata Bharu is the capital city for Kelantan,where she lives.She also tells us that Malaysia has 14 states and Kelantan is located on the eastern side.Kuala Lumpur is the capital of her country.Their surrounding neighbors are Indonesia,Singapore,Thailand,Filipina and Brunei.Islam is the main religion in her country,but they do have other religions there,too.She says their state flower is the hibiscus and their Independence Day is August 31,1957 and they have celebrations every year in honor of their independence.

In addition to her letter,she enclosed a key chain with a picture of a shadow puppet,it's called "wayang kulit" and can be seen at the museums or "Balai Seni" and also Malaysian currency,which I believe would be 1 ringgit?Thanks Jihan for your letter and goodies!Enjoy her letter and goodies below:

Letter #75 from Minnesota

Letter #75 comes from Krissy in Minnesota.She says she is doing something similar to our project and calls it "Year of the Letter".She tries to write at least one letter a day or more.Like ourselves,she is trying to keep letter writing from being a lost art.She loves having a mailbox full of letters.She says she has found some beautiful friendships through letter writing.She also has high hopes for letter writing to stay alive and well.Krissy usually spends 1-2 hours a day working on letters and mailart.

She says she lives in a beautiful area in northern Minnesota.She says it's a woody area filled with friendly people.She says that her grandma once remarked that when she walked into the woods at Kane Lake (a private lake),she couldn't tell whether she was in Norway or Minnesota because they looked so similar.

Krissy's heritage is a beautiful mix of Swedish,Norwegian,Finnish,German and English.A lot of people of Scandanavian descent settled in her area.She says that you can see cars with the flags of Norway and Sweden on them.Krissy and her sister have even dressed up in traditional Norwegian costumes and rode in a parade during Heritage Days,which is a big event in Two Harbors,MN.It lasts for a few days and they have a parade,live bands,etc. and people from all over attend.

Krissy loves to travel and would love to travel to Finland to see where her relatives grew up.

She also recommended some books-A Frozen Hell,which is about the Russo-Fin war during WWII.It's one of her favorite books.She also just finished reading a book called The Glass Castle.It's a memoir of a girl coming of age in an abusive family.She has also read A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Thanks Krissy for your lovely letter.You can see her lovely letter and picture of her in a traditional Norwegian costume that her grandmother sewed for her below.How lovely!

Letter #74 from North Carolina

Letter #74 comes from Adam in Durham,North Carolina.He is currently a law student at Duke University.He started law school last year after working for a large public accounting firm for about four years.He says school is a lot more fun than work (I agree!).

Adam is originally from Kansas City and his wife is from Boston,but she moved to Kansas City when she was a kid.Together they have two children and a dog.He went to college in Utah (BYU) and then moved back to Kansas City.He says living in North Carolina was his first experience living in the south,although he says it doesn't really feel all that southern because of the people affiliated with Duke and UNC.He also says that he loves the warm weather there.

Adam was getting prepared for an oral argument competition the night he wrote our letter,so I hope he was successful!Thanks Adam for your letter!Enjoy his letter below:

Letters #72 & #73 from England

We received this envelope from a previous writer who works with the elderly and promised to have some of them write us letters,but since they couldn't write,Rachael typed up what they told her so that they could be a part of our wonderful!

The first letter,letter #72 is from Teresa who says she is 78 years old.She left school at the age of 14 to work and her wages were 17 schillings and 6 pence a week.After working one year,she would get a raise of 2 schillings.She worked in Hunters,which was an old fashioned grocers and worked half days on Thursdays.The store had men who went around town collecting orders and Teresa and the other workers would put them together,She worked during the time of rationing and they had a box with an electric light in it.

On Saturday's she said a man named Davy Ray,who was the rat catcher would come in and they would close the door to the store room so the customers couldn't see what was going on.Then Davy would let his two little dogs loose to catch the rats.They would even find mice droppings in the dry goods but they would have to sift the food,such as the rice and flour.Since there were no refrigerators at the time,the meat would be hung up and would have maggots all over it.The would get rid of the maggots by using vinegar.I don't know about you,but I think I'm thankful I didn't have to grow up during that time.

Teresa also said that during the rationing,you got 4oz butter and 2oz of lard per person.Everything was rationed.After working in at the grocers,she worked at a pork pie shop on the same street.She would ask people,"Pork,beef or tomato sausages?"She would put the jelly in the pork pies through a hole in the top.

After that job,she worked at the co-op,where she served people.She worked at Oxford University,Corpus Christi,as a college scout,which was a posh name for the cleaners.After that job,she says she landed the best job in the world,she worked as a cleaner at the museum.

Teresa has lived all over the country,Ireland,Oxford,Plymouth,Barrow-in-Furnes and Hinckley.Thanks Teresa for sharing your story with us.

Letter #73 is from a lady named Kath,she's 76 and was born in Wilesden,a little village near Bradford in Yorkshire.She lived there until she was 11 and then went to Keighley Girls Grammar School.She also went to PE college near Sheffield for 3 years.From there,she went on to teaching college near Matlock.She was connected with the Methodist Church and from there she went to Sierra Leone.She was at a girls boarding school about 200 miles from Freetown.She taught all subjects and they had very little equipment.She stayed at the school overnight and most of her students stayes nearby or on school grounds.She says the students were very loving and generous.When she would check the school at night,she would have the company of Jasper the dog and a cat,whose name she cannot remember.The cat was great for helping get rid of the rats.

After that job,she got a job in High Wycombe,Buckinghamshire.This time she taught 11-12 year olds.She says she was a little behind in what was happening in PE and had never seen people use climbing bars.She taught PE to the girls along with a few other subjects.The boys had a different teacher for PE.

Kath loved to go on days out to the Lake District and especially enjoyed walking around the lakes and mountains.She says it's a very beautiful place in the summer.Thanks Kath for sharing your story with us!

Enjoy their letters and goodies below:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Letter #71 from Massachusetts

Letter #71 comes from Julie in Massachusetts.She says that her town,Westford,became a town on September 23,1729.She says that around 22,000 people live in her city.Her city is home to a granite quary and apple orchards.She even says that Paul Revere's son went to school in her city and there is a bell cast by Paul Revere in the local high school.

Boston built the first subway system in the US in 1897.On the green line you can see some of the antique trolley cars from the early days.She used to take the same subway when she lived in Cambridge to go to Harvard Medical School and still takes it to visit the city to see plays or visit the museums.She also told us some other interesting facts about here state,such as:
•There is a home in Rockport built entirely out of newspaper
•The fig newton is named after the town of Newton,MA
•The Basketball Hall of Fame is in her state
•Boston Common was the first public park in America
•Revere Beach was the first public beach in the U.S.
•Elias House of Boston invented the sweing machine
•Massachusetts mean "a big hill place"

Julie also sent us some amazing pictures.One of them was taken using a transmission electron microscope and is a picture of a very small alga,which is too small to see with your eyes,called Phaeopolykrikos.Another picture shows a picture she took using a compound microscope and in the picture you can see the coils that are stringing cells from a sea anemone.She says they are like tiny harpoons that catch tiny shrimp called brine shrimp.The solid white blobs are cell nuclei.The last pictures she took show her house this past winter.They didn't set any records,but it was very snowy with less melting between storms than normal.She says it's the most snow they have seen since moving to their house in 1999.Doesn't it look beautiful?(We are supposed to be getting 1-3 inches of snow Sunday)It's always nice to look at,but not fun to drive in. :) Thanks Julie for your amazing letter that included science....we love it!My oldest two daughters are really interested in what you do and will try to write to you once they get the chance.Julie has also enclosed some postcards,too,which you can see below with her letter.Thanks Julie for writing!Below are all the goodies she sent us:

Letter #70 from Connecticut

Letter #70 comes from Heather in Connecticut.She is married to a chemist and they have a daughter that is almost two years old.Their favorite hobby is letterboxing,which is something we've been saying we will have to do,but never get around to it.She says that she lives close to New York City,so they are able to take day trips there.I think that would definitely be a plus to my chidren since NYC is one of their must visit places.The town she lives in is home to ESPN,which is only 2 miles from her house.Her town is also home to a Carousel Museum where they restore old carousel horses (we think carousels are so pretty,but usually when we find them,they are very expensive to ride).Their amusement park,Lake Com Pounce holds the record for the oldest (and still active) amusement park.

Heather has also enclosed some postcards and a printout of places to see in her state.Thanks Heather for your letter and postcards!Enjoy Heather's goodies below:

Letter #69 from Switzerland

Letter #69 comes from Corinne in Switzerland.She lives in Geneva with her two children and husband.She says they have four national languages,German,French,Italian and Romansh (the fourth is only spoken a a few remote valleys).She says that despite the differences,the people there get along quite well and live very happily together.

She says that Geneva is well known for the muticultural atmosphere thanks to the United Nations offices located there and the multinational companies based there..She used to work for an American company,but decided to quit and actually enjoy her life.

As many people may already know,Switzerland is known for their watches,chocolate (I love swiss chocolate), and cheese.Cheese is one of her favorite things.On the front of the card she wrote in is a picture of a famous trademark of Geneva,Jet d'Eau,a water fountain.Behind it is the White Mountain which is in France.She also says that if you love skiing,then it's the place to go.Thanks for the letter.We were lucky to get it because it was accidentally sent to our neighbors house and they opened it and realized it was ours so they returned it to us.Enjoy her card below:

Letter #68 from The Netherlands

Letter #68 comes from Tijmetje,who lives in The NetherlandsShe is currently a student in the university.She is originally from Middelburg,which is a very nice city with many beautiful old buildings in the city center,although some have been burned down after the Nazi bombing in 1941,but many have survived.

She curently lives in Rotterdam where he goes to the university to study medicine.She is very interested in neurology,but doesn't know just yet just what type of job he wants to do in that field.She also enjoys playing the bagpipes.She actually wrote our letter while on the train to his weekly band practice in the city next to her hometown.

She says that the cities of Middleburg and Vlissingen are great places to walk through.Vlissingen has a nice boulevard and maritime museum.She says Middleburg has a lot of pretty houses and old buildings that are nice to see.Also,the old abbey is worth a visit,with the museum and the tower.Their market is great and there's a bookshop and old city hall that is very pretty to see.She says it has little statues near the clock that move with every strike of the hour.As for the rest of the island (which is no longer even considered an island),there are great beaches and it's a really great place to ride bikes.She also says that if you go north a little,you'll find the Delta Works,an engineering masterpiece that protects them from the sea.It was built after the 1953 flood,which killed many people and cattle.There is even a museum about the Delta Works.

Tijmetje also told us about the city of Rotterdam,which was also bombed in 1941.She says recently special lights have been put in the pavement to show which parts of the city burned down as a result of the fires started by the bombing.She also says you can look at this website here for more info about it.He says he saw photos of the city both before and after the bombing and ot was almost impossible to figure out where they were taken.

Rotterdam is a port city,the second largest in the world.She believes that their twin city,Shaghai,is the largest port city.There are also boat tours through the port.She also said that Rotterdam has many musuems,with his favorites being the Maritime Museum,the Historical Museum and the Education Museum.She also said that Boymans is great,as well.

She has shared quite a bit,so I regret not being able to share the entire letter,but he also mentioned some great things about the cities of Schiedam,Amsterdam and Haarlem,which all have very interesting things about them.She also told us about an awesome card that she has that gets her into many museums for free,which she uses quite a lot,I'm sure.

Along with his lovely letter,Tijmetje sent us a bunch of lovely ticket stubs,which we truly love collecting from all over,they are always so interesting to look at.Thanks so much for writing to us!Enjoy all of her goodies below:

Letter #67 from California

Letter #67 comes from Ciara in California.She lives in the foothills of Northern California in a city called Paradise,with a population of 10,000 people.Her city got started back before the Gold Rush as a lumber town.She says it's rumored to have been called "Pair-o-dice" for the gambling that went on there.She says that the closest thing to gambling that her city has to gambling is Bingo at the senior city. :) She says that her city is a retirement community but now more families are moving to the area since it's cheaper and the communte is easier.

She has included a copy of a special newspaper called "Dogtown Nugget",which is published annually for her town's Gold Nugget Days celebration.She has also included a support pin,museum pin, and a packet of replicas of money throughout California's history. (I had a hard time convincing my youngest daughter that is wasn't the real thing.) :) Along with those items,she included a postcard that she made from a photograph she took of the ridge along Skyway,which is the road most people take to get to the city of Chico.

She says that she moved to Paradise when she was in 7th grade.It was only a two hour move,but she said the city was so different than the one they moved from and it was a hard adjustment to get used to.She recalls a time she was reading during lunch time like many kids did in her old school,but over here,kids were really confused why she would be reading during lunch time,so the kids were quite different in her new place.She says it took time to get over the culture shock but she has grown to love the city and says it's a safe place to live with lots of wonderful people.It has been a big culture shock to us too,moving here and it's a hard adjustment but you just have to focus on the good things.Anyways,with all the complaining she did about the area,she wound up finding the love of her life there...they both worked at the local coffee shop.I always believe that things have a way of working out for the best. :) They were married last year in an old art deco movie theatre in Chico.Congrats Ciara!

Ciara currently works at her church and does many different jobs,such as graphic designing,resident artist and administrative assistant.She really enjoys it but hopes to start her own freelance design and illustration business some day.

She also says they will probably be leaving the area soon for her husband to start grad school,but says they will both miss Paradise,especially since she loves being surrounded by trees and not the suburbs.Thanks for the letter and goodies!
Below you can see her lovely letter and goodies below:

Letter #66 from Italy

Letter #66 comes from Manuela in Italy.Manuela is a student and studies languages and tourism sciences.Her major is English,so she is practicing writing in English.She lives in the northwest part of Italy,which is near France's border line.She says she can get to the south of France in less than 2 hours.The city where her university is located is called Torino,which is also where the Fiat Group was born.She said that on March 17th,the country was celebrating their 150th year of Italian Unification and have lots of celebrations.I'm hoping she had a great time since it has already passed.She also says that Torino was the first Italian capital in 1861 because the Savoy King lived there.

She says that Tourino is one of the greatest cities she's ever seen and has shared with us some history of the city.Turin(also known as Torino,of course) was annexed by France in September 1802.Turin was the prefecture of the French department of Po from 1802 till the fall of Napoleon in 1814,when the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sadinia was restored with Turin as its capital.In 1871,the Frejus Tunnel was opened,making Turin an important commnication node between Italy and France.The city in that period had 250,000 inhabitants.She says that some of the most iconic landmarks of the city,such as the Egyptian Museum,The Mole Antonelliana,the Grand Madre di Dio Church and the Piazza Vittorio Veneto were built in that period.In 1865 the capital was moved to Florence and since July 8,1871 the capital has been Rome.

She also says that in 1899 Fiat was founded and Lancia in 1906.The Universal Exposition held in Turin in 1902 is often considered the pinnacle of Art Nouveau design and the city hosted the Exposition again in 1911.By that time,the city had 430,000 inhabitants.The symbol of Turin is the Mole Antonelliana,which is named after the architect who built it,Alessandro Antonelli.Construction began in 1863 as a Jewish synagogue.It now houses the National Museum of Cinema and it is believed to be the tallest museum in the world at 548 feet high.

Turin is also home to the Shroud of Turin,which is a linen cloth bearing the image of what is believed to have the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma,such as a crucifixion.It is kept in the royal chapel of of the Cathedral of Saint Johnthe Baptist in the city center.Many people believe it to be a depiction of Jesus Christ,but there is great debate supporting it and not supporting that it is him.It's a symbol of religious devotion and is one of the city's main symbols and tourist attractions.

Thanks so much Manuela for your fascinating letter about your city.We also enjoyed all the stamps on the letter...very cute. :) Thanks so much for writing.Also,she was very creative with the envelope and made it from a map of her city.Enjoy her letter and postcard of her city at night below:

Letter #65 from Maryland

Letter #65 comes from Mary who lives in Maryland.She lives close to Baltimore.She has been involved with mail projects for about three years now.She's visited Virginia before.She recommended that we visit the Visionary Art Museum since it's her favorite place.Even though we have been to DC a few times,we never went to Maryland since we weren't sure what to see since most of our trips were last minute trips since we live about 4 hours west of DC,so it's not too far for us to take day trips.

Mary works at a psychiatric rehab center where she teaches classes to adults with mental illnesses and she also attends college.She is a psychology major.

Mary's favorite form of mail is postcards....ours is,too. :) Well,I have actually stopped but my daughters still exchange postcards on's always fun to get a postcard from a suprise country.We also have traded on the forums for postcards that we really like.So far,we have well over 100 postcards at last count a few months back,but we have gotten many more recently so maybe we could have 200 by now.

Mary loves the color yellow and loves glitter (me too!).My oldest daughter just won a book titled Waking up in the Land of Glitter....we're excited to read about anything dealing with glitter. :) She said she would be taking a picture of our letter and posting it on the 365 days of mail art challenge website,so we need to check that out.Thanks so much for helping spread the word,it's much appreciated and really needed to reach our goal.Here is Mary's letter below:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Finally caught up.

I am now finally caught up on all the letters we have received so far so if you didn't see your posted,we have not received it yet.Please forgive me for any mistakes I may have made in the postings as I spent a lot of time reading the letters and trying to summarize them for the blog and taking pictures of the letters.My youngest daughter caught a few mistakes that I fixed immediately,but I am sure there are more,so I apologize.

We have been beyond thrilled with the response so far to our project and we are hoping that we can still reach our goal....maybe we'll get all our letters closer to the end of the year. :) At least we are below the 2,000 mark,we now have 1,947 letters more to go,so we will need to get about 7 letters a day and we are now averaging one letter per day so we need to get more letters everyday.We are still getting many sign ups but there have been a lot of people that signed up at the beginning of the year that haven't sent us a letter yet,so we hope that if you are one of those people,you still send us a letter,we'd love to hear from you!We have loved the letters we have received so far.

We are so thrilled with the response and about how so many people have been helping us spread the word by posting on their blogs,facebook,etc and also many people are sharing our link through their pen pal letters,so we sincerely thank you all for spreading the word just to help us achieve our goal!Without all of you,this project would not be possible.Thanks!

Also,I have been getting a lot of emails since this project has started,most of which has been spam,so if you have emailed us and haven't heard back,please email us again as we could have accidentally deleted your email along with all the other junk we get.I think we have emailed everybody,but there could have been an email or two that didn't get a reply.

If you want to be a part of this project and haven't signed up yet,all you need to do is email us at reneealam(at) for our address,write us a letter (please not a postcard) and tell us about yourself and where you live and mail it to us,it's that easy.It's ok if you live in an area where we have gotten a letter from,every person and perspective of their area is different,so don't hesititate to write to us.We are also hoping that we can get some letters from some countries we haven't heard from,so if you don't see a letter from your country,why not tell us about your fabulous country.This has really been such a great way for my children to learn about other people,countries and of course it helps learning geography since we have to find the place on the globe,it's really fun.Thanks again everybody! :)

Letter #64 from Missouri

Letter #64 comes from Brian in Missouri (I always pronounce it wrong,as I'm sure many others do as well).Brian sent us a really interesting letter in which he printed out images and attached them to the letter where he talked about the photo.Ok,did that sentence even make sense?Anyways,back to the letter.Brian lives in Jefferson City,or "Jeff" for short.He says it's a small city for a state capital and has only about 40,000 people living there,making it the 7th smalles capital in population.An interesting fact that Brian told us was that his state is only one of five state capitals without an interstate running through it.He loves living in such a small city because there isn't traffic to deal with.His city is located just about in the middle of the state on the banks of the Missouri River.

He also says that the Missouri River was the route taken by Lewis and Clark when they left St. Louis looking for the Northwest Passage in 1804.They stopped at what became Jeff City and gave it its future name.

Brian gets to work in the capital a lot for a small Christian newspaper,which is located just a 10 minute walk from where Lewis and Clark landed.

Another fascinating fact he shares with us,or well,is trying to figure out for himself is why the state flag has two grizzly bears on it since grizzly bears are not native to Missouri.His theory is that bears looked a lot cooler on a flag than the state animal,which is a mule since mules aren't so tough and probably smell bad so it wouldn't go well with the "Show Me State" theme.You'd have to see the letter to get a good laugh from it. ;)

He also says that Lewis and Clark even got featured on Missouri's state quarter.He likes to pretend that they are on their way to Jefferson City....I must say,I think Brian must be very funny in person, because his letter is very animated.He says the Arch is also featured on the coin,but that it wasn't built until the 1960's.

Brian has lived in Jeff City for six years, but is originally from Oklahoma (my father is from there and all his siblings,except for one still live there).He does miss Oklahoma a lot but says that Missouri is very nice with nice people,but mention football and he pledges his loyalty to the Sooners (I'm sure Brian would get along great with my uncle who is a major Sooners fan,too)!

He says he loves our letter project because he loves to write.When we started our project,we really didn't think any men would write,we really thought letter writing was really a female thing but this project has shown us that there are many men out there that love to write letters,which I find amazing.I think writing is a good habit for keeps your mind fresh and young. :) He says that he would get very excited when he was in college to get mail,but it was usually only a letter from his mom,once a week.When his sister went to college he got the idea to send her a piece of mail,but not just every week,every single day!Like he says,go big or go home!I couldn't agree more with that!

Anyways,he soon realized that he didn't have nearly enough to write in a letter every day,so after the first half of the year,he decided to switch over to postcards.They were a lot cheaper to mail,too.Every time he went somewhere or his friends travelled,he would get more postcards to collect for her.His sister graduated in 2009 and collected a grand total of 850 postcards from Brian.Is Brian not a super brother or what!? I think that is the coolest thing.I bet those letters and postcards really made each day special to her and it will be a memory she will never forget!He said he was worried because he still had 150 postcards left after she graduated,but then she decided to go to grad school (maybe she really missed the postcards) and so he had another two years of sending postcards to her and by this May,he will have sent her a total of 1,300 postcards!Is that awesome or what!I think he should win a brother of the year award or at least some guiness record for most postcards sent to a person. :) He says each postcard he sent her was different and the total cost of postage was $350....about the price of 2 college textbooks,right? :) He has also discovered postcrossing like we have and has gone nuts since then. :)

Back to his city,he says they have a German district called Old Munichberg.A lot of German immigrants settled in his city in the late 19th century.He says there are many German restaurants that are supposed to be really good is his area,but he hasn't tried them out yet,but is on his "to do" list.

Jefferson City is also home to the old Missouri State Penitentiary that has closed down in 2004.It was built is 1836 and some of its more famous inmates included "Pretty Boy" Floyd and James Earl Ray (the man who shot and killed Martin Luther King,Jr.He says it's now a tourist attraction that attracts many visitors.He thinks it's kind of weird that they would be so thrilled to show off the gas chambers...I told you Brian is very funny in his letter!

Sometimes Brian works in Hannibal,which is the hometown to Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens.He says they have a riverboat that will take you up and down the Mississippi River.Then in St. Louis is the Gateway Arch that is well known and of course,the St. Louis Cardinals are there.Another popular city is Kansas City,which is obviously well known for their BBQ.All of these cities are just 2 hours away from where Brian lives,which is really convenient.He also mentioned the city of Fulton,which is 25 minutes north from him.In Fulton there's a Winston Churchill Museum that's really cool and is on the campus of Westminster University,which is where Churchill gave his famous Iron Curtain Speech in 1946.Brian says that if you have any interest in WWII ,the Cold War or Churchill,then you must visit Fulton.They also have a section of the Berlin Wall there,too.As you might have guessed by now,Churchill is Brian's favorite historical figure and loves his quotes that he shared with us and you can see in the pictures below.He became interested in Churchill when he was in London.

I think I will have to stop now as my fingers are about to fall off since Brain had so much to say.Thanks Brian for a VERY interesting letter,brochures and postcards.Also,forgive me for any spelling mistakes since I think my eyeballs have also fallen out. :) Please do feel free to share our project with your friends!Enjoy all of Brian's (here's your shameless plug ;) ) goodies below:

Letter #63 from Florida

Letter #63 comes from Sarah in Florida.Sarah works as a librarian (yes,another librarian has written to us). :) The city she lives in in called Sarasota and is known for three things:tourism,banking and philanthropy.She says that Sarasota is popular with retirees who come down south during the winter from New England and the Midwest.They like to call them "snowbirds" since they arrive during the first snow of the season.A lot of people in her area also hold fundraisers and work for charities to raise money.

She is a librarian at the local college and says that her college educates artists and designers who will spend their careers making movies,doing photography and illustrating books.Some of their graduates work for Pixar and have helped make movies,such as Toy Story 3.

When Sarah is not working,she is reading books (why am I not surprised?).Her favorite book to read when she was younger was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We loved watching the old and new movie of it.She asked for our favorite books.I don't think I really had a favorite book,but when I was a teenager,I enjoyed reading Stephen King's books.I'll have to ask the girls if they have a favorite book,but I think they will have a hard time with coming up with just one book. :)

Thanks Sarah for your letter and she has also enclosed a paper featuring Ringling's College of Art and Design,which must be where Sarah works.You can see her letter and brochure below:

Letter #62 from Minnesota

Letter #62 comes from Jackie in Minnesota.She lives in a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul with her husband and they will soon be celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary....congratulations!They also have two grown daughters.

She said that they have received so much snow that they are worried about flooding during the spring time.Thanks Jackie for your letter.As you may not have noticed,she actually turned the letter into an enevelope,too.Very clever. :) Here is her letter below:

Letter #61 from Japan

Letter #61 comes from Ryosuke in Japan.He didn't write anything but enclosed a printout about his bulletin board based on the Big Bang and prime numbers.He also creates logotypes and visual poetry.He has also enclosed a piece of art.I wish you could have told us a little more about yourself in the letter.His printout and art piece is below.Thanks Ryosuke for participating in our project.

Letter #60 from Indiana

Letter #60 comes from Carrie in Indiana.She is a mom to 3 wonderful children,1 of them has sadly passed away as a baby due to SIDS,but as she says,she is still very much a part of their family. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing her blog here,I feel that it might be of help to others going through the same thing.Click here to visit her website.Please stop by her site and say hi.She says it is a very tough thing to go through but it does get better over time,but that doesn't mean that you ever forget your loved one,but she says she also finds comfort in knowing her baby is with God being well taken care of.

Carrie and her family live on a wind farm and says that their county generates electricity for other cities.At first,it was unusual to see the wind turbines,but after a while,you almost forget that they are there.

They do live pretty far from everything,she says the nearest Walmart and grocery store is 15 miles away. (That could be a good way to save money,right?) :) She also said the mall is 38 miles away,but she wouldn't trade living in the country for anything.They are surrounded by flat farm ground full of soybeans and corn.

Enclosed with Carrie's letter is a picture of the wind turbines in the background and 2 of her adorable children.Thanks Carrie for your lovely letter and sharing your story with me via email. Enjoy her letter and pictures below:

Letter #59 from Virginia

Letter #59 comes from Beth,who lives about 3 hours away from us in Richmond,Virginia.She has been living there since 2002 when she moved there to attend the University of Richmond.She now works in the academic department of the college.She loves her job and her colleagues very much.

She grew up in the south side of Virginia and still visits the area all the time so her dog can run around all over her parents yard.

Beth loves to travel and has been to 39 states and 6 countries.She also loves music and frquently travels to see her favorite bands play live.She also says that she has seen her favorite band,called The Academy Is about 70 times over the past six about a major fan! :) She's followed them from Richmond,Virginia to New York to Chicago and even to London.Do they know that you have followed them so much?They should give you free tickets by now. ;)

Her more recent obsession is British tv shows such as Dr. Who and Torchwood,Misfits, and Being Human.She says once you see one show,you get sucked in and become addicted to them.She says the shows even help her to be able to understand her friends from England more.

Thanks Beth for your lovely letter and she has also enclosed a picture of her beloved dog,Sassy.Enjoy her letter and picture below:

Letter #58 from Germany

Letter #58 comes from Manuela who lives in Germany.The name of the city she lives in is called Freiburg.She has 3 lovely cats that she considers her children.She loves writing letters and postcards,reading,travelling,sports,music,everything about India,Hello Kitty,Diddl and she is also interested in animal protection and animal rights.

She has lived in Freiburg since 2001 and really likes it.It is located in the southwest part of Germany.It's also called "Black Forest" and is very well-known in other countries and is a popular place for tourists to visit.Her city has 220,000 inhabitants and is near the border of France and Switzerland.Many people in her city speak French.The city is about 900 years old and its landmark is Freiburg Minister.The church's tower is 116 m. high and from the top you can see a great view.They also have many museums,a theatre,historical buildings and lots of good restaurants.

The name "Black Forest" came from the Romans who named it that because of the thickly forested mountains that had dense growth of conifers and other trees so it blocked out all of the sunlight inside of the forest.She mentioned some things that we may be familiar with that came from her area,such as the black forest cake,black forest ham and cuckoo clocks.

She says that Freiburg has two sister cities,one in Madison,Wisconsin and the other in Guildford,England.

One of the items she enclosed was a timetable for the trains since it's very important for her because she works at the German railway called Deutsche Bahn.Her job is to announce over the loudspeaker when a train leaves,arrives,is delayed,etc.She says she loves her job and that it's a great job for women since she gets to talk the whole day. :) Sometimes she works as early as 5am or as late as midnight and she also has to work on weekends and holidays.

One of her favorite countries is Greece and she says she has been there a few times already and that her next trip is to London.She is really looking forward to that trip.I hope she has a lot of fun.

Manuela has also written some German phrases for us in hher letter and also attached to the letter a 1cent Euro and 2cent Euro.Along with her fabulous letter,she sent us the cutest Diddl bags (I never knew Diddl was from Germany),the last time we were able to find Diddl in the stores here was probably 6 years ago and we never saw it again) :( She also sent us a children's book in German since we are trying to collect children's books in every language,some very cute stickers,postcards,a picture of her cats, and of course the railway timetable I mentioned earlier.Thanks Manuela for the lovely letter and goodies!Enjoy her goodies below:

Letter #57 from The Netherlands

Letter #57 comes from Saskia in the Netherlands (wow,we must be getting really popular there as we are getting many letters from there...keep them coming!).Saskia just got married last year.Congratulations!She hopes to have kids in the near future.

Her and her husband live in Doetinchem, a really nice city in the east of the Netherlands,close to the German border.She loves to shop in Germany,especially for their chocolate.Hmm,I would love to try som German chocolate,it has to be better than American chocolate.I'm sorry to insult my country's chocolate,but I think it's true,our chocolate is quite boring.She says the Netherlands is not a big country and that it is really flat,there are no mountains there.

Her many hobbies include reading,travelling,music,trading postcards,penpalling,horseback riding,geocaching (we really need to start doing this fun hobby),walking,biking,skating and more. :) She also loves books by Sophie Kinsella.

As she said,she loves travelling and has been to quite a few places,such as Australia,New Zealand,Germany,France,Belgium.England,Spain,Greece,Italy,Maldives,USA,and finally Hong Kong.For her next trip,she plans to go to the Dutch Island,Terschelling.She has been very fortunate to travel to so many places.

She says that homeschooling isn't allowed in the Netherlands.If you do not attend school,they will send inspection to your home and you will have to pay a lot of money.She explains the Netherlands school system.First is primary school for ages up to 12,then you go to secondary school for 4 to 6 years,then you can do (this is the part we don't understand) mavo-mbo,havo-mbo or hbo,vwo-hbo,university or mbo.We are really clueless as to what that means,so we will have to look that up online.

Saskia currently works as a taxes official and also has her own flower business.She makes flower decorations for weddings,funerals and banquets.

Saskia has sent us some candy and those very popular stroopwafels,candy,some print outs with info about her country,along with some dutch words,pictures and recipes.Thanks so much Saskia for everything.Enjoy her letter and goodies below:

Letter #56 from China

Letter #56 comes from Raelin, who lives in China.She was born in May 1996 and lives with her parents and grandpa.She's an only child.Her favorite singer is Michael Jackson,her favorite books are Jane Eyre (I loved the old movie) and Daddy Long Legs.She says she lives in the same hometown as Bruce Lee.Raelin is in the 9th grade.She has also enclosed some very cute panda bookmarks,which you can see below,along with her letter on very cute stationary.Thanks Raelin for the letter and bookmarks!Here they are below:

Letter #55 from California

Letter #55 comes from April in Los Angeles,California.She has lived there for about a year now but has lived all her life in Southern California.She says she loves living in Los Angeles because there are so many culturally fun places to go.Last summer she had a to do list and visited many places,including the Mummy Exhibit at the California Sciencenter,the mammal exhibit at the Natural History Museum,visited the zoo and also went to the Griffith Observatory.There are some places she didn't get to see,so she will be doing them this summer..

April is currently working on her Special Education teaching credential at California State University.After this quarter,she has one student teaching left to do then she will be credentialed.She has also received her bachelors and masters degree,so she will be happy when school is over.She currently works as a unit secretary in two different emergency rooms.She says it's very exciting and fast paced.She says she will miss ot once she starts teaching.

She also enjoys reading and is currently reading a book called The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.She is reading it as part of her book club along with a doctor at one of the ER's she works at.Last year she read 42 books!That's amazing! I need to set a goal and stick to it.My only problem is finding books that I like and I am usually bad at judging a book by its cover,which is a bad habit to have because I know I have missed out on good books because of that.She doesn't watch much tv,but loves all kinds of movies.Her favorite is a French film called Amelie.

She is thinking of moving to Colorado Springs this summer since it's going to be very tough to get a teaching job in California with their bad economy.I wish her all the best since most cities have been cutting a lot of teachers jobs,which,in my opinion should be the very last thing that should (if even) be cut.With our education system so bad in our country,the last thing we need is less teachers for our kids.

Thanks April for your lovely letter,postcards and pictures.Also congratulations on the birth Logan who was born on 2-12-2011!

Enjoy her letter and goodies below:

Letter #54 from The Netherlands

Letter #54 comes from Telenn,who lives in the city center of Vlissingen,a city along the coast of Walcheren,a region of Zeeland.Zeeland is one of the 12 provinces of the Netherlands and it's name means Land of the Sea.Zeeland is a group of islands.She says that even around 4400 BC there were people living in the area.Around the year 0 the sea got a lot of grip upon the land and that led to many creeks and coves forming and a large island group was founded.

She also says that the people founded small villages,which formed the base of a lot of villages of today.After a struggle betweeen the Dutch and Flemish Earls and the Dutch Floris and William III won.They decided to build a couple of towns with a harbor,including Vlissingen.In the year 1315, the city got its city rights and a church was built (St. Jacobs Church),which she lives close to.The harbor then needed to grow and there was some serious competition with Slais,another harbor city.Philip of Burgundy gave permission to build a wall around Vlissingen,with a gate.The prison tower which is still standing today is a reminder of that gate.She also says the Vlissingen played its part with the East and West Indian trading company as well.The city was really flourishing!

But in 1795,Napoleon wanted to conquer England and took over Vlissingen,which was a strategic place.In 1809 an English expedition burnt the city hall,2 churches and 65 houses,and many more homes damaged.In 1807 Napoleon tried to expand the city,but thanks to the English,he left in 1816,leaving Vlissingen in need.Around 1867 the city was rebuilt again and the city was flourishing again.

Then the second world war started and Germany invaded the city on May10,1940 and the city was bombarded.Only one house was undamaged,so they had to rebuild the city again.The city center then changed into an area with all kinds of shops.She says she lives right on the center and that the harbors are gone, but a small marina and dockyard stll exist.The prison tower she mentions in the letter is now a restaurant.

She also tells us that there is a Dutch hero from Vlissingen named Michiel de Ruyter,who was born in 1607 and lived close to where Telenn lives now,actually just around the corner from her.She says he was  a bit of a troublemaker.He travelled a lot,became a sailor and also joined the Navy and was promoted as admiral.He fought many battles at sea and also got a nobility title in Denmark for his part in a battle in Scandinavia.He died from his injuries when he was almost 70 years old in 1676.You can see his statue on the postcard she has enclosed.

She then goes on to tell us about herself.She is not allowed to have pets where she lives,but wants a cat one day.She does however, have two African Dwarf frogs and three red corn snakes.She says all they do is sleep all day.I guess if you don't have to search for your own food anymore, you can sleep all day. :). They feed them mice and she says they are great pets for people with allergies since they shed skin,not hair.She also says that they are so easy to take care of,you don't have to walk them or worry about finding a sitter for them while you are on vacation. :)

She also tells us that she has three jobs in the field of education.Ons of her jobs is an educational assisitant at a primary school.She also helps a student after school and she also works at a regional study center..At the regional study center she helps different groups of people,some are metally disabled and some of the people have come from other areas,so they need help learning Dutch.She is quite busy with her jobs.

In her spare time she loves to read.When she wrote the letter,she was reading a book called The Wind Singers by Megan Lindholm.she also loves to draw,listen to music and take photographs.She also enjoys travelling and has been to Paris and Berlin and will be visiting France this year.

Telenn has also included some stickers for my daughters,some tea bags,a postcard and a printout of some pictures she has taken.Thanks so much for the lovely letters and goodies.Enjoy all of her goodies below:

Letter #53 from The Netherlands

Letter #53 comes from Saskia, who lives in the Netherlands.She says she wishes they had this type of project when she was in school. :)

Like many people who have written us,she felt her English wasn't good,but as with every letter,the english is great,I think many people are too tough on themselves and are so worried about making mistakes.Anyways,back to the letter.She says she lives in the city of Amersfoort,which is located in themiddle of the Netherlands,not very far from the capital Amsterdam.The Netherlands is located in the west of Europe and shares borders with Belgium and Germany.She just recently moved to Amersfoort in January,so she is learning about the area along with us. :)

She has finished her studies in July for her Bachelor of Applied Sciences and now works in a hospital.She has described her job,so if you are eating,you may want to read this later. :) She works in a laboratory where they receive potentially infected human materials,such as urine and stool samples and then try to find out what is causing the infection.They do that by culturing, or feeding the bacteria and when they are grown,they check them out on a microscope and do many tests on them.After that they test what kinds of antibiotics are suitable to treat that infection.She says that working with bacteria is very challenging because they have a mind of their own so her work days are never dull and boring.

On her letter,she placed some pictures of the typical Dutch symbol- flowers and the coat of arms of the Netherlands..She says the Keukenhof is a famous place which has a huge spring bulb display containing tons of flowers.

Her favorite tradition of the year has already passed (March 6-8).She believes it may be a cathollic tradition instead of a Dutch tradition.She says they call it a carnival and it's always celebrated 40 days before Easter and is three great days of fun.She always celebrates with her family.She also says it always starts with a parade on a Sunday to welcome the prince of the carnival.In the evening there are parties everywhere and if the weather is nice,there are marching bands playing on the streets.On the next day there is another parade with huge wagons and more marching bands.She also says that you cannot go to the carnival wothout dressing up,she was going as a mad scientist (isn't that her real job?). :) Then on Tuesday there is the children's parade and at the end of the carnival at midnight,all the marching bands gather around a central spot and sing one last song.In Louisiana,where I'm from,we call this carnival Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday)....we have the marching bands and people dress up and throw beads,coins and other goodies.I didn't know they had the same tradition in other places,especially as far away as the Netherlands.On the last page of her letter, she attached some typical pictures of a girl wearing traditional Dutch clothes in front of a windmill and another picture of a boat with windmills in the background and also a newspaper clipping which told about a boy who stole a bicycle on his birthday.I guess he wanted a bike for his birthday and didn't get one. :(

She has also enclosed a beautiful postcard of Monnikendam.It is a part of the old city walls that were originally built in the 13th century and restored in 1947.She says there is a story going around that they used rye with the masonry to add in some of the old looks of it,since it was previously used.The contruction workers then arrived on the worksite the next morning with lots of damage done to the masonry.They suspected the local youth.The next evening they put a man on watch to look for the children, but found out it was sparrows that were attracted to the smell of the rye. :) She says you can still walk around what is left of the walls and that they made a pretty green zone around the walls,which are now beginning to fill with crocus flowers and it looks really pretty!

Thanks so much Saskia for your beautiful letter and postcard!We enjoyed your letter!
Here's Saskia's letter and postcard below:

Letter #52 from Canada

Letter #52 comes from Ashley who sent us a really fun letter.He wanted us to do the work to figure out where he's from,so I will let you figure it out,too.If you think you know the where he's located you can put your answer in the comments so we can see who gets it correct.

Here is what he tells us about his city.His first clue was that his city is called the "Festival City" due to all the festivals they host during the summer.His city lies at 52° 32' 43"N, 113° 29' 24" W.He is in the mountain standard time zone (the same as Denver,CO) and is 2,300 miles NW of Roanoke,VA.There is about 800,000 people living in the city proper and nearly 1.2 million people in the greater metopolitan area.

In 2004,they celebrated 100 years as a city.They were a major trading post for the Hudson Bay Company since as early as 1795.He did give away the country name in the next sentence,but I won't give you that,it will be to easy for you to figure it out. ;) There is a city that runs through his city and the parkland connected to it is twenty-two times the size of Central Park in NY.He says they have the most dedicated "green space" of any other city in the country.

Ashley also tells us that their economy is based on the oil and gas industry, but has a large diversity in their economy,including technology,bio tech and finance industries.He also told us that despite what Hollywood says,they do not live in igloos or drive dog sleds. ;)

Ashley works as a Child and Family Services case manager and moved to that area so he could finish his Psychology degree.His wife works at a not-for-profit company that is focused on providing recreational opportunities for people in a very busy city.They are also new parents to a set of 2 year old you and your wife get double the love. :)

He also says that we can go to google maps  (after you figure out the city) and follow 98th Avenue across the James MacDonald bridge for a nice view of the river valley and a very popular approach to their downtown area.

Thanks Ashley for a wonderful letter.It was definitely something we didn't expect.I never would have thought we'd get a letter filled with clues to find out where the writer lives....that was a great idea and so fun!Thanks so much for taking the time from your busy life to send us this fun letter!

Here's Ashley's letter below:

Letter #51 from England

Letter #51 comes from Emile, who lives in a little village in England called Stoke d'Abernon.It is located in  the county of Surrey,which is just on the southwestern border of London and is a very pretty area.It is a very old village.One of the oldest houses there has a painted sign on it showing the year in which it was built- 1415,about 80 years before Columbus set sail from Spain.St. Mary's church is also located there and is even older and goes back to about the year 1300.

Emile says she is very interested in local history and while looking around St. Mary's church with a friend,she found some pieces of Roman brick on the lowest parts of the wall.She says that the builders of the church would have used whatever material they could find in the area and that it could mean that there was a Roman village in the area,especially since Julius Caesar crossed the Thames River,which was only 10 miles from the church.

Emile's parents are from Goa,which used to be a Portuguese colony in India and she grew up in Kenya until the age of 13.She says that like many people in the past and present, they have moved to a new home,which for them is England.She says she thinks that is one way the world has become a better place and is more tolerant is because people now live next door to people that may have come from thousands of miles away.I agree that it does make the world a better place when you get to learn new ideas,try new foods (that's the best part) and learn to see things differently and sometimes appreciate what you do have when some people had nothing before coming here.She tells me about her friend that is about as English as you can imagine found the diary of his Italian great-grandfather and it mentioned how he walked (yes,walked) from Essex to Padua,Italy in the 1880's to sort out his father's will.I can only imagine the strength and will people had back then,yet we complain about having to walk just small distances in the parking lot of a store. ;) It's amazing how we as people have changed,sometimes I think we have more health problems now because of all the technology that keeps us from going out searching for things and doing more things.We can literally stay in our homes and have everything we need delivered or found online and not even have to deal with society.I wonder what the people of the 1800's would think if they could see us now.Would they like the luxury or would they miss doing things with their own hands such as building their own home,growing their own food,relying on neighbors to help you out,etc.On the other hand,with the invention of the internet,we are able to learn about so many things from so many different people without having to worry about travelling.

Thanks Emile for your lovely letter.Here's her letter below:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Letter #50 from Massachusetts

Letter #50 comes from Barbara in Massachusetts.She didn't tell us about herself or her city so I don't have anything to share with you all except a picture of her letter,which simply hopes for our project to be successful.Thanks for your letter Barbara,I wish you could have shared something about yourself or your city with us.Here's a picture of her letter below:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Letter #49 from China

Letter #49 comes from Rebecca who is currently living and studying in China.Rebecca is orginally from Kansas, but her mother is from China.She will be finishing school in June and then will move to New York City.She is going to teach Chinese to high school students.I think that is wonderful.The schools in our area don't offer Chinese classes like they did in Michigan,which my daughters had signed up for before we moved here,so we missed out on learning Chinese.I think it should be offered in more schools since we are connected to China in so many ways,it would be wise to learn to communicate with them in their language.

She lives in Tianjin,which is one of the biggest and most important cities in China.There are about 7 million people living there,enough to make the government decide to make the city into its own state!There's even a new high speed train that goes from Tianjin to Beijin in 25 minutes.The train goes 320 kilometers per hour and leaves every 15 minutes.

She's been in China for almost two years now and lives with two roommates,one is Chinese and one is Korean.Even though all 3 of them come from such different backgrounds,they are able to clearly communicate with each other in Chinese.Her Chinese roommate is quite fascinating because when he was eight years old,he was selected to go to a special school that taught traditional Chinese dance and acrobats.He graduated at age 14,then travelled all over the world performing his dances and acorbats until he retired at the old age of 25. ;)

They had finished celebrating the Chinese New Year when she wrote the letter and says that they get a 2 month break so everybody can reunite with their family and spend time with loved ones.As everybody knows by now,it is the year of the rabbit and rabbits are extremely lucky.Something unlucky in China is the number four because it sounds the same as the word for death,so they avoid anything dealing with the number four.It is advised not to give gifts or anything in groups of four when in China.They also don't have a fourth floor on buildings (I guess they remain vacant?).But,she says that the government just passed a law saying that all buildings must have a fourth floor and that all streets must include buildings with the number four in the address.

She visited her mom in Hong Kong for the holidays then came back to China to celebrate with her friends.They ate dumplings and set off fireworks to scare off the demons for the next year,unfortunately the loud sound broke her window. :(

She thinks the most interesting thing about China is the Chinese language.There are over 100 different spoken languages and almost all are written the same way.That is really amazing!She also says that all names are two or three characters.The first character is your family/last name and the second and third are usually characteristics that your parents want you to have.

Below,you can see Rebecca's lovely letter written on pretty stationary and a postcard of the Great Wall of China and 5 lovely New Year cards.We loved it all Rebecca,thanks so much for writing!

Letter #48 from Minnesota

Letter #48 comes from Sara in Virginia,Minnesota...yes, that's correct.I was shocked that there was even a city called Virginia,outisde of Virginia,but there is. :) It is located in the northeast of the state.There are many lakes,rivers and trees in her area and not many large cities around her,just beautiful nature to enjoy.

Sara works as a registered nurse in the surgery department/operating room.That sounds like a very hectic job to work in.She included a paper showing some of the physicians she works with sometimes.She has been doing this job for 13 years and says it's quite interesting.

When Sara is not working,she loves to read,write,listen to music and the news,work on crafts,knit and practice her sewing skills.She also enjoys bellydancing,travelling,bicycling,hiking and photography....seems like she does she great things that she could photograph at the same time.She does say that she loves to take pictures of nature-flowers,etc.She is currently reading "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest" and has enjoyed the trilogy.

Sara has enclosed a visitors guide to her area,a postcard featuring the Hockey Hall of Fame and the other  showing View Point in the Sky in her city.She also sent us some printouts about her state.Thanks Sara for your lovely letter,brochures,postcards and printouts,thanks for taking the time to write to us!Enjoy all of Sara's goodies below-

Letter #47 from the United Kingdom

Letter #47 comes from Rebecca in the UK.She is married to the love of her life and says that even though she's 27,she feels like she's 19. :) I know the feeling (although I don't know if I feel that young),I think the key is to not let your number age dictate how you feel.Don't sit around and complain that life is passing you by,get up and do something to keep you feeling young. :)

Her and her husband have a white rescue cat called Ivy.I'm sure like many pet owners,they consider her their baby.Ivy also has a sister named Holly and can you take a guess when they were born based on their names?Yes,that's right,they were born at Christmas time. :)

Her husband is a web programmer and plays guitar in a band and she is a bookkeeper/accountant at two jobs.Although she enjoys her job,she would really like to be a published author.She is actually studying Creative Writing currently and would also like to teach creative writing,which she says she will probably need a Masters degree to achieve that goal.

Rebecca also enjoys art journaling....that happens to be one of our favorite hobbies.She also loves mail and mail art and has penpals all over the world.She's lucky enough to have her mail delivered right onto her door mat,so she can always hear the sound of the mail dropping.We know the feeling because we know the sound of the mail truck when he's down the road and we all gather by the window,watching him put the mail into the's the highlight of our day to get a letter.

She says that she lives in Yorkshire,which is the biggest county in England and wouldn't live anywhere else,that's how great it is.She also says that there is a north/south divide in Britain,with the North,Scotland and Wales being mostly considered poor and working class.She lives in the North so houses are much cheaper there and work is very scarce..She says that their accents are so rough that we Americans probably wouldn't understand them.I'm usually pretty good at understanding most accents,unless it really is a deep one.

Yorkshire has two of the UK's major cities-Leeds and Sheffield and are only 40 miles apart.Sheffield was a steel manufacturing area until the 1980's and is now very poor,much like the demise of Detroit (we know about Detroit,we lived about 15-20 minutes away for 10 years-the city has some beautiful architecture and really could use a cleaning because it has the potential to be such a great city if the government put time and money into it).The city of Leeds is more prosperous.She attended the university in York,which is in North Yorkshire and says it is a beautiful countryside peppered with cute little villages.

Rebecca has been to most parts of the UK since she used to go camping a lot when she was a child and still agrees that Yorkshire is the best place to live.In the picture below is a postcard of a boat at Runswick Bay and a prayer card featuring a tea bowl.Thanks Rebecca for sharing information about your town with us and for the postcard and card.Thanks again for writing.Here is her lovely letter and cards below:

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