Video: A Letter from Your 14-Year-Old Self

Bruce Farrer has been assigning a special project to his students: a 10-page letter handwritten to themselves, which he mails back 20 years later.

Video from KarmaTube

In the small Canadian town of Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan, Bruce Farrer lifts letters off a pile, pausing to examine each one with his soft, heavily lidded eyes. A high school teacher for more than 50 years, Farrer has been assigning a special project to his students: a 10-page letter handwritten to themselves in which they express their hopes and dreams, fears and experiences. He returns their letters, whether through direct mail or doorstep delivery, 20 years later.

“Having this opportunity to digest is like this little gift of somebody that I have forgotten years ago.”

“I wasn’t quite expecting that emotional roller coaster,” says one former student as she reads about her grandmother’s death, wiping away tears. “I can’t tell you how special that is to me, to be able to go back and read something that I wrote to myself when I was that age.”

“Having this opportunity to digest,” says another, “is like this little gift of somebody that I have forgotten years ago.”

Now mothers and fathers, many of Farrer’s former students look back at the days when they sat in a classroom and watched an ordinary man teach. Many found him not especially charismatic, but as they’ve grown up, so has their image of him. They see something different, more complex: a generous spirit whose lesson has transcended their perceptions of time and one another.

"I know I’m not an outstanding teacher, just an ordinary teacher,” he murmurs, his modest words soft like cotton. “Who happened to assign a rather different assignment."