This project allows you to enter into a dialogue with an academic from an USOS partner institution. It results in an enriching encounter with someone from a different cultural background who shares a same concern.

The participants are students and researchers from partner institutions in Belgium, DR Congo, India, Morocco and Nicaragua.

You choose a topic to write about, linked to sustainable development. USOS will then find a pen friend for you and will put you on the way for the correspondence. The most inspiring correspondences are published on a blog of University of Antwerp!

The call for participants is currently closed. We will open a new call in April 2021.

For the current call, we are still searching for students from University of Antwerp, who want to correspond about any of the topics below. Please send a mail to janus.verrelst@uantwerpen.be if you want to sign up for one of the themes. As these correspondences start later, the timing for this will differ from the schedule you see further down this webpage.​

Correspondence with someone from India, in English

  • Labour codes and what it means for workers and employers
  • Awareness raising on social issues in education

How it works

You apply online (currently closed, if you are a student of University of Antwerp you write a mail to janus.verrelst@uantwerpen.be) and wait for your pen friend to be announced (check "timeline" to see how long you have to wait). You will first have the opportunity to get to know your pen friend in an informal way (mail, chat, video call, …). This will be followed by the formal correspondence which should have the intention to be published on the blog.

You write to your pen friend as you write a letter, starting with "Dear XXX". You express a sincere interest in the correspondent's reply. The project consists of four rounds:

  1.          Round 1: Participant X starts the correspondence with an analysis/opinion on the submitted topic (700 to 1.000 words)
  2.          Round 2: Participant Y replies with his/her own analysis/opinion from his/her own perspective on the topic (700 to 1.000 words)
  3.          Round 3: Participant X replies (200 to 500 words)
  4.          Round 4: Participant Y replies for the second time (200 to 500 words)

After your first round you will receive feedback from USOS, who will guide you to a publishable correspondence.

Topics to write about

The proposed topics must fit into one of the categories below

  • Sustainable economy (social entrepreneurship, value chains, trade, workers’ rights)
  • Education (access to education, curricula)
  • Democracy
  • Gender
  • Social justice (poverty, inequality)
  • Health (infectious diseases, mental health, access to health care)
  • Climate
  • Environment (clean water/air, biodiversity)

Timeline

  • 25 January: call for participants to submit a topic
  • 8 February: call for participants to choose from the submitted topics (these are other participants than those who submitted their proposal)
  • 17 February: start of the correspondences
  • March: publications on the blog
  • 1 April: New call for participants