Global Pen Pals Program

Cross-cultural connections

Inspired by the incredible life and conservation legacy of Dr. Jane Goodall, Roots & Shoots Partnerships in Understanding, Global Pen Pal Program is a program reborn during the covid-19 pandemic, when it was realized that millions of students would not be able to return easily to school. With the simple mission to connect students across nations, this program facilitates an opportunity to gain a wider perspective and a deeper understanding of global contexts, while promoting access to education for all. 

By taking part in Global Pen Pals and building wonderful connections, Roots & Shoots Australia provides members across the world with the chance to:

  • Share their lives across cultures and languages with other students
  • Make new friends across the world in various continents
  • Improve their confidence in reading, writing and communication
  • Join the NICE (Network of Inter-Cultural Exchange), where your school can share project updates with schools across the world in association with Jane Goodall Institutes from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

The program is vital in:

  • Building cross-cultural awareness and empathy across nations, cultures and continents
  • Children developing friendships by improving their relational and communication skills
  • Increasing childrens’ educational engagement in participating nations, improving literacy and language skills

Roots & Shoots members write bi-monthly letters to one another, sharing around key themes such as: environmental conservation; peace and wellbeing; family and culture; faith and belief; and their dreams for the future.

“When I wrote my letter I shared what foods and animals I like. Foods which I like most are turkey, irish potato. The animal I like the most is the chimpanzee.

“My friend in Australia likes mangoes. I was so excited to hear that she also likes mangoes, as I thought that people from Australia don’t eat Mangoes.”

~Roots & Shoots Global Pen Pal Program participant, Uganda

“I’m proud of the girls and this initiative. I’m very happy for those who started because it has really helped the girls and motivated their talent. They learn about plants, trees and natural things from other countries, plus how to read.”

~Royal Alinaitwe, Roots & Shoots Patron and Teacher, Everest High School, Uganda

Video Credit: Roots & Shoots Uganda

The Global Pen Pal Program is an initiative run by Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Australia with other global Roots & Shoots chapters, that started in September 2021. It provides primary, secondary and university students with a chance to connect to young people in other cultures, build friendships, develop literacy and communication skills, plus deepen global engagement.


Educators can register their school group (minimum 10 students) by registering interest here

If you’re a student and you would like to get involved, simply ask your teacher to register interest for your class to get involved.

The minimum age is 10 years old and the maximum is 17.


You will likely send and receive around 4 letters per year.


Your country will be selected for you from the nations available at the time. This might include countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas and Oceania!

The program lasts for at least six months (with the option to extend should you choose to).

There are two intakes during the year for Australian students: a start of year intake (e.g. Jan/Feb) and a mid-year intake (Aug/Sep).

Participating Jane Goodall Institutes