We are Nik and Veronica Haidar and in 2020 we moved from London in the UK to Lille in northern France. Both of us studied languages, we’ve worked in different countries and we have always enjoyed connecting with people and building friendships across borders.
The MatchMySchool story started when one of our friends, Ted in Scunthorpe, asked if – while in France – we could find a penpal for his granddaughter Freya. He remembered with great affection the joy of receiving foreign letters with foreign stamps and strange postmarks from the penpal he had had when he was a boy. He wanted Freya to have the same experience. We found Freya a penpal. Then Ted’s niece asked if we could find her a penpal too. Another link created.
One of our new friends in Lille was an English teacher at a secondary school, who was looking for English penpals for her daughters. Actually, she said, she would be really grateful if we could find a whole class for her students to work with! We helped her find the right contacts and at the same time, we got to know some other local teachers. It made us think – is there a wider need? We ran an online survey. The response was unequivocal. We discovered there is a real appetite to establish more links between schools in the UK, France and beyond.
We strongly believe that enabling children in different countries to connect with each other is hugely enriching. At it’s simplest, it gives a sense of meaning and purpose to the learning of other languages. In addition, it allows young people to experience for themselves how lives lived in other places are both similar and different to their own, and how much we all have in common. As children grow up, the ability to speak another language and connect with people around the world opens doors to a wealth of opportunities both personal and professional.
We both found work and made life-long friends through the learning of other languages.
Our mission is for MatchMySchool.net to give the same opportunity to children across Europe and beyond.