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Dear You is a process-based cross-cultural international art project created for children aged 4-15 years old.

Dear You

location_on Helsinki, Finland
Dear You connects children, their teachers, and artists internationally by making and sharing art with new friends from abroad. Through this process of exchange, a child’s worldview is widened and their skills for self expression are honed. The exchange of process-based art projects with our new friends living in all corners of the world opens up dialogue, perspectives, and understanding.
I’ve realized that even though we’re different people that we’re also the same in a different way.

Harvey, 2nd grade student at Bulli Public School in Bulli, Australia.


HundrED has selected this innovation to

Visual Arts in Education

Key figures

Innovation Overview

Target Group
1 275
Updated on April 18th, 2021
about the innovation

Mail Art + Pen Friend = Dear You

What we do?

Dear You creates opportunities for students, teachers, professional artists all around the world to get to know oneself and each other through making and sharing art. The idea of Dear You is to create process-based art and make new friends living in all corners of the world. All Dear You participating schools are organized to have a Dear You friend in another country. During these workshops the children create their monthly art projects, which are then mailed to their Dear You friends abroad. Every month a Dear You workshop leader goes to the school to make monthly art project. Dear You workshop leaders work with the classroom teacher so that the methods are shared and that the school can continue Dear You independently the following year. 

The range of projects include environmental art, book-making, installations, collective drawings and scientific experiments. These project allow for experiential learning and encourage the children to explore and be inquisitive. Through making art, collectively discussing their artworks in the class, carefully packaging them to share with their friends abroad, the young artists proudly present their heritage. At the end of the exchange the works are collected to create an exhibition in the school and online. The whole school benefits from the artistic exchange as the artworks received from other countries are displayed in the school for everybody to enjoy.

Why we do it?

Dialogue, exchange, and having skills to honestly express oneself will create more understanding and peace within ourselves and each other. This project is inclusive to all  teachers, students and artists. Ultimately, this project reaches creatives of all ages all over the world. Dear You provides creative tools for promoting understanding and multicultural exchange, that can be then used by educators and applied in their classrooms. It provides an opportunity for artists and educators to create international connections. The main benefactors of Dear You project are, of course, the children. Through engaging with their peers across the globe, young people learn about other cultures, not only in another country but within their own group, too!

Every voice should be heard and Dear You creates a safer space for listening and sharing.


HundrED Academy Review

Exciting experience for students to use knowledge in different disciplines, express themselves, and share aspects of their lives (language, culture..)

- HundrED Academy Member

Mail art promises safe space that could enhance social emotional wellbeing of children in the targeted age group.
Cross cultural learning is an additional aspect that adds value to the academic curriculum. Overall, a promising way to deliver value education coupled with art and 21st century skills

- HundrED Academy Member
Dear You brings art and communication back by reintegrating the power of mail. By connecting schools around the world with each other, Dear You is creating a community of students, teachers and leaders who are passionate about intercultural communication and bringing authenticity into the classroom. Students are excited about connecting using art as their universal language.
Academy review results
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process

See this innovation in action

Dear You: A Letter with Love
Dear You at Valencia Design Education Forum 2020 on November 5 via ZOOM! — Dear You Art Project
I am very happy to be a part of Valencia Design Education Forum 2020 / #VDEF2020! The theme of this year’s forum is Analogue+Digital.Welcome to the presentation/workshop “Mail Art + Pen Friends = Dear You Art Project” on Thursday, November 5th from 11-12 (EEST) and from 17-18 (EEST) there will be a Spanish speaking translator. Both presentations will happen via ZOOM. Register by emailing Arlene at arlene.dearyou(at) You will receive the ZOOM link after registration.
The Art of Blending
Intercultural Exchange — Travel With Your Students Without Leaving the Classroom
“The cultural exchange has opened the minds of my little students,” said Arlene. “Through simple questions, they begin to understand things many children their age know nothing about, like time zones, different languages, and traditions for specific holidays around the world. My students may be small, but their minds are anything but, if you know what I mean!”As for Arlene’s pioneering program, Dear You is an art exchange project that includes schools from different countries, including Finland, the Czech Republic, Taiwan, United States, and now Vietnam. Skype connects users in different countries through a simple video call, but Arlene discovered two items that really enhance the basic Skype experience for her Dear You community: the Point 2 View USB Document Camera and the X1-N6 Internet Conference Station.
Me + You = Us - Ottiya
Dear You featured in Ottiya Empathy Issue explaining how and why Dear You was created as well as how you can be a part of making and sharing art.
We are so happy to announce that Dear You was highlighted on Yle, Finland's national public broadcasting company! During the fall of 2019 the 2nd graders from Mäntykankaan koulun in Kokkola were making and sharing art with the 1st and 2nd graders from Bulli Public School in Bulli, Australia.Yle heard about this artistic exchange and interviewed Auli Palosaari and her students along with Jeremy Gudze and his students. They met online for the first time to talk about how this experience has been meaningful for them. Oh my, the insight the students had melted my heart! The kids said that they not only learnt different art techniques, but learnt English too."I’ve realized that even though we’re different people that we’re also the same in a different way." (Olen huomannut, että vaikka olemme erilaisia, olemme myös samanlaisia.)-Harvey"I’ve learnt that there’s more to art than meets the eye." (Opin, että taiteessa on enemmän kuin ensinäkemältä vaikuttaa.)-AlbiThank you Kaje Komulainen, Yle producer, for sharing our story of how art can be a way to open dialogue and self reflect.Sincerely,Arlene
Together We Make — Dear You Art Project
Together We Make is a special series of process-based art projects created to bring us together during the time of COVID-19. Participation to Together We Make is open and free to people of all ages. Click on the links below to find an artistic prompt that speaks to you. Email your artwork to arlene.dearyou(at) when you are finished and it’ll be added it to our online gallery (below) with your consent. Let’s open dialogue through art. Your art spreads more inspiration and joy than you can imagine!+++La participación en Together We Make es abierta y gratuita para todos las edades. Haz clic en los enlaces a continuación para encontrar una pista especial para ti, esta te guiará para hacer tu propia obra de arte. Envíala por correo a arlene.dearyou(@) cuando hayas terminado, y la agregaremos a nuestra galería (abajo) en línea si estás de acuerdo. Abriéndo diálogos a través del arte. ¡Tu arte difunde más inspiración y alegría de lo que puedas imaginar!+++Osallistuminen Together We Make:n projektiin on avoin ja vapaa kaikenikäisille. Klikkaa linkit alhaalla voit löytää taiteen pisteet joka puhuu sinulle. Lähetä sinun taidetta sähköpostiviestillä minulle arlene.dearyou(@) kun olet valmis ja voidaan laittaa teoksia näyttelyyn (alhaalla) jos sinä hyväksyt. Avataan dialogia taiteen kautta. Taiteesi levittää enemmän inspiraatiota ja iloa enemmän kuin voit kuvitella!


Achievements & Awards

December 2020
Visual Arts in Education
November 2020
Dear You presents at Valencia Design Education Forum 2020 / #VDEF2020
May 2020
Innovation page created on
October 2019
Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Dear You: bridging Colombia and Finland. Bogotá & Tumaco, Colombia
October 2016
Received funding from Taiteen Edistämiskeskus to present Dear You at In Dialogue, Nottingham, UK
May 2014
Received funding from Arts Promotion Centre Finland and NAPA – Nordens institut i Grønland
February 2014
Dear You was awarded funding from Taiteen Edistämiskeskus for children's cultural promotion 2014

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Dear You welcomes You
Dear You in inclusive to all teachers, schools, artists, and young people. Everybody has a gift, a voice, and we appreciate yours.
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