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If It’s Tuesday, This Postcard Must Be from Belgium

By Teresa Schultz-Jones
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #92, 2010.

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Teresa Schultz-Jones

Over the summer our family joined Postcrossing.com. We have been receiving postcards from all over the world ever since. Last week, we received postcards from an eleven-year-old boy in Switzerland, an English teacher in China and a student in the eastern part of Russia who hopes to study in St. Petersburg next year.

Postcrossing provides a way for people to exchange postcards from over 200 countries via snail mail. For each postcard that you send, you will receive one back. With each postcard that you receive, you’ll get to see a little bit more of the world through someone else’s eyes.

It’s very easy to join Postcrossing. Simply go to Postcrossing.com and click on the tab marked “Signup” on the top center of the page. You’ll be asked to provide your location, a user name, and your postal and email addresses. You’ll also need to create a password for your Postcrossing account.

Next, you may want to create a profile for yourself. While everything is optional, it’s a good idea to list what languages you speak. There are also spaces to provide your name, gender, birthday, a link to a website and an open space to write about your paragraph. It’s generally unwise to give too much identifying information about one’s self, so we’ve limited it to our family name and a short paragraph listing what sorts of postcards we’d most like to have.

At the bottom of the profile window are three options for you to consider.

Check the first option if you don’t mind frequently sending postcards to the same countries. (This helps countries that are less active increase their participation in the program.) It doesn’t affect the variety of countries from which you will receive cards.

Check the second box to send and receive postcards to your own country.

Check the third box if you are interested in direct swaps with other members. A swap might be sending refrigerator magnets in exchange for extra postcards from someone. Checking the box helps members that are interested to find each other.

Now you’re ready to send your first postcard. Select “Send a postcard” from the navigation bar on the left side of the window. You’ll be given a unique postcard ID, an address, and the profile information of the person chosen to receive your first card. Be sure to write the postcard ID somewhere on the postcard, since this is how Postcrossing keeps track of each postcard sent and received.

Most Postcrossing postcards are written in English. But, with so many different countries in the program, if you wish to use other languages, you’ll definitely have the opportunity! Write whatever you like on your postcard. We usually write short descriptions about the view on the postcard.

You can mail up to five postcards when you first start out. This number increases as you send more postcards out. The limit allows new users to try out the project without getting overwhelmed.

After you mail your postcard, you’ll have to wait for a bit. When your postcard reaches its destination, the recipient registers it on the Postcrossing site using the unique postcard ID that you wrote on the card. You’ll get an email saying that it was received, and often a short email message from the recipient thanking you for the card. When you log into Postcrossing, you can read these messages, as well as look at the statistics on how far and how long each of your postcards took to reach their destination. When you send several out at once, it’s fun to see which postcard reaches its destinations first.

Each time a postcard that you sent is registered to the site, your address and profile information are sent to someone else somewhere in the world. Soon, you will receive your first postcards. Don’t forget to log into Postcrossing to register your cards.

What I like about Postcrossing is that you can send as many—or as few—postcards as you like and you can do it as your own convenience. While all of my children have taken geography, learning about other places is easier when it comes in postcard-sized chunks with a personalized note.

Recently we’ve decided to make our own postcards using photos that we’ve taken of our town since the only postcards that I could find were from other places. I’ve found it to be much more cost-effective and satisfying than buying postcards from the store. Other people involved in the program make their own postcards, sometimes by cutting out pictures and recipes from magazines or drawing a picture for you.

Postcrossing makes going to the mailbox more interesting for everyone involved. It’s a great way to bring the world together, one postcard at a time.

Teresa Schultz-Jones is about to complete her family’s sixteen-year-long homeschool journey now that her youngest child is about ready to graduate from high school. Of her two older children, one is now an English teacher in Taiwan and one is an animation major in college. Of all of Teresa’s jobs, homeschooling was the most adventurous and rewarding.

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