Peace Corps Volunteer in Indonesia Uses Postcards from Around the World to Teach English

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 10, 2013 - Peace Corps volunteer Matthew Borden of Benicia, Calif., is teaching students in his Indonesian community English with the help of postcards through a project he calls Postcards to Java.

By asking friends, family and others around the world to send a postcard to his class, Borden gives his students the opportunity to apply what they’re learning. When the class receives a postcard, the students read them and craft a response to the sender. Borden hopes to collect postcards from all 50 states and across the globe.

Students read a postcard together

“When a student sees a postcard sent from a faraway place and realizes it’s addressed to them, it sparks an enthusiasm for learning English that the textbooks don’t match,” Borden said. “Even my least motivated students will call me aside to help them decipher new words and phrases.”

The postcards also teach Borden’s class about the United States and other places around the world. Each postcard provides an opportunity to start a discussion and learn more about the culture and geography of the place it came from. 

“People participating abroad are sharing all sorts of lessons about life outside of Indonesia,” said Borden, a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz. “What most people in my community know about the U.S. and other countries is limited to what they see in movies and television.”

Matt Borden with students in his English class

The postcards will be displayed in the school library, next to a world map and a map of the United States, so others at the school can read them. Borden is also keeping an online archive where anyone interested in his project can follow along with the class as they receive postcards from around the world.

For more information on Borden’s project, how to send a postcard to his class and to see the postcards they have received, visit

About Peace Corps/Indonesia: Nearly 135 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Indonesia since the program was established in 2009. Currently, 66 volunteers serve in Indonesia. Volunteers work in the area of English education. Volunteers are trained and work in the language Bahasa Indonesia.

About the Peace Corps: Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order on March 1, 1961, more than 210,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries. Today, 8,073 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries in agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment and the agency’s mission is to promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries. Visit for more information.

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