Exchange for Change 2014-2015

Exchange for Change is an interactive initiative introduced by The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP) that works at improving relationships between school students of two different countries. This program seeks to help students in both countries and realize that a sustained dialogue is possible. Through this project we hope that students will have a clearer understanding of their history, culture and lifestyles. We believe that a continuous exchange of letters, postcards, photographs and oral history will in turn lead to a positive change in restructuring cultural misconceptions.

Purpose of Exchange for Change 2014-2015

Students in Karachi and Kolkata who rarely have a connection across the border will be encouraged to develop a relationship with their counterparts through sustained exchanges of letters, postcards, artwork and oral histories while building a sense of identity and awareness, as well as have a better understanding of their history and culture. More than 800 students will participate in the project, with 562 students from Kolkata.

Different Phases of the Project

Phase 1: Letter Series

The Letter series encourages students on both sides of the border to introduce themselves, share their interests and hobbies and ask any questions from their counterparts in India. Students will also be encouraged to speak to their grandparents and older family members to better understand lifestyles, tradition and culture. Using the information they learn, they will then write letters to students across the border with details from their conversations. The whole idea to exchange these letters is to help the students across the border understand the people of the other country and inform them about their countries history and culture.

Phase 2: Photography Series

In the Photography Series, students will first send photo essays depicting their lifestyles and send it across the border telling their counterparts about their lives and their neighbourhoods. In the second exchange, students will create and exchange artwork in groups based on different themes: Partition, Cricket, Weddings & Festivals and Street life. This will enable students on each side to have a better understanding of what the other country and its people look like and the way they live. This assignment will also encourage them about teamwork and teach them about patience and tolerance while working together

Phase 3: Oral History Series

Students in both the cities will conduct oral history interviews with their grandparents about early life in the subcontinent on topics such as entertainment, street food, sports and lifestyle. The Oral history DVD’s will be sent across and be shared in the classrooms. The series will allow another voice, that of the grandparents, to be added to the exchange.

Phase 4: Video Series

The video series adds a visual element to the project. Video documentation is done at the end of every phase and students send messages to their counterparts. The videos are compiled and exchanged at the end of the project.

The Exchange for Change program has started in Kolkata with an orientation program conducted by Swaleha Alam Shahzada, Executive Director, The Citizens Archive of Pakistan, over two days in six schools. These schools are Abhinav Bharati High School, Chowringhee High School, La Martiniere School for Boys, Lakshmipat Singhania Academy, Modern High School for Girls and Saifee Hall. Phase 1 will begin from September 2014.