The Education Twinning Project was introduced in 2013 as an apolitical project to engage children from different backgrounds in an intercultural dialogue. Pupils in the UK and Germany sent 'pen pal' letters about their daily routines and their interests to Al Madad Foundation in London, while letters from Lebanese schools were collected by our education partner in Lebanon. All letters were then sorted, tracked and packed in London and then redistributed, assigning each pupil a 'pen pal'.

Running across three terms, the project aimed to provide a platform from which children could express themselves and open their hearts and minds to the world around them. The project, in turn, highlighted the common ground between children across discrete economic, political and social strata. Many shared the same dreams, ambitions, hopes and fears.

All of the pupils learned from the experience:

- They discovered new cultures and customs

- They had an improved empathy and understanding of others

- They enjoyed making new friends and reading their letters

- They developed a general positive outlook

For this project, the main target was pupils in primary school. In the year 2016/2017, the participating group were from 4 public schools from different regions in Lebanon, 6 schools from the UK, mainly in London and Brighton and 1 school from Frankfurt, Germany. A total of 794 letters between 30 classrooms (grade 3 until grade 7) were being exchanged every term.

The project expanded in 2017/18, for the first time allowing teachers to correspond with colleagues overseas. This facilitated not only cultural exchange but also the sharing of personal and professional experiences between teachers in both countries. The number of participating schools remained the same in 2017/18, while the number of pupils increased by 10%.

Despite positive results, challenges remained in how to translate this initial contact into something with more educational impact and to better engage the schools in more meaningful conversation. After long and difficult deliberations, the AMF team took the decision not to proceed with the exchanges in 2018/19, agreeing on the need to pause until more time and resources could be found to make the most of the project.