An Overview of the PEER-Pal Program at NYUSH

PEER-Pal at NYU Shanghai offers a program called Pen-pal, which encourages students both in rural areas of China and at NYUSH to exchange thoughts and opinions with each other and get a deeper understanding of Chinese education.

PEER-Pal club is connected to PEER China, which is a Chinese Non-Governmental Organization that supports the development of middle and high schools in rural areas in central China. Its activities are meant to expand the horizons of both NYUSH students and the middle/high school students they interact with.

Among different types of activities, the most popular one is the Pen-pal program. The club operates this program in coordination with the Sixth Middle/High School in Yuanling County of Huaihua, Hunan Province, China. Participants are matched one by one according to their characteristic; the pair of “pen pals” will then write 4 handwritten letters to each other during the semester.

A participant shared his experiences of the Pen-pal program:

“I was matched with my first real pen pal, a wonderful and ambitious 11th grader (they’re in Gaokao class this year). For me personally, this was a really unique experience of discovering my pen pal’s way of thinking and understanding the challenges the Chinese educational system imposes on students in rural schools, and I really hope that the life experiences I shared with them in my letters gave them a new idea of how Eastern European life can look.”

Xu You, the previous president of Pen-pal Club said:

“For the PEER-Pal community, our service targets are dual. On the one hand, the club hopes to provide NYU Shanghai students with opportunities for social participation in service-learning projects with a platform for communication with middle school students. On the other hand, as the only service-oriented society of NYU Shanghai after 2019, we also hope to make some real social impact.” 

When engaging in various activities, participants at NYUSH are also making some changes, including answering questions for middle school students, sharing personal experiences, or just simply chatting with them to help them relax. 

What’s more, NYUSH students in the club also have a dual identity. They are both engagers and learners who gain benefits from the activities; they are also service-providers who broaden the horizons of teenage students in undeveloped areas. These multiple identities make the community diverse and inclusive and also inspire the community to continue to innovate during the pandemic.

In PEER-Pal, both operators and participants are making attempts to strengthen the power of communication, even though it can be tentative at this special point. Members of PEER-Pal believe that communications and connections between people are the original force of “mutual education”. In this program, as well as in an attempt to innovate in education, everyone has their unique stories, and meeting with these interesting people and exchanging ideas in the club is a unique and valuable experience itself.

This article was written by Bingting Zhang. Please send an email to bz1185@nyu.edu or contact via Instagram @zbingting to get in touch.

One thought on “An Overview of the PEER-Pal Program at NYUSH

  1. The program is free to clients who wish to be paired with a Peer PAL who can help them on their own journey to recovery. For more information on the program and how to apply, see the Peer PALS brochure .

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