Our second session was on ‘Postcrossing: Cultural Exchange Through Postcards’ held on Thursday 1st March, 2018 at SMW Lagos AfricanNXT section.
You can read about our first session on Sustainable Tourism here.
WHAT IS POSTCROSSING?
Postcrossing is a global online network where participates are dedicated to sending and receiving postcards. This is coordinated by a website that organizes and enables this exchange between people who have never seen or know themselves. The only thing that bring such people together is the love for exchanging postcards. This a great social media platform the redefines communication and encourages people to send handwritten mails in this digital era.
Postcrossing has helped people to learn about other people’s cultures through the eyes of locals. It has brought people closer through appreciating and respecting other’s culture.
THE POSTCARDS PANEL
The following questions were asked and discussed during the panel:
(1) Why are postcards still important in our digital era?
The panel agreed that Social Media is a great platform to connect with people from all over the world. But the disadvantage is that sometimes it makes it ‘uninteresting’ because it takes only a few seconds to connect with people. With the use of ‘paper or small cardboard’ which postcards are made from, it encourages people to write and not type messages. It also goes through an interesting journey just to get to the receiver.
Chuck gave a nostalgic experience of how he has enjoyed sending and receiving postcards from friends and families from far and near. He explained how joyful he feels when someone sends him a handwritten letter or postcard. He also expressed his delight about how each postcards from different countries feels, that they all have different textures. These are some of the reasons his merchandise company, Lagos Laidbac still make and sell postcards.
(2) How can we encourage people to use postcards as a means of cultural exchange?
Funmi who was introduced to Postcrossing by me, expressed how excited she gets sending and receiving postcards. She makes postcards with pictures of Nigerian tours destinations her tour company, TVP Adventures have visited. She loves the fact that her postcards tell stories of Nigeria’s culture. This, she said, encourages cultural exchange.
(3) How can we, as a community, help to develop the postal service Nigeria?
Pelu passionately spoke about his postcards and post office experience. He has been using the local post offices in Nigeria from his childhood days. Kindly read his experiences here and here. Apparently, he was at the NIPOST post office to send out a package before coming for our session. While there, he meet some school students who were on an excursion at the post office. He decided to share some postcards with them and encouraged them to send it to family and friends. Even the post office staff asked him for some postcards which he gladly gave. He makes postcards which he doesn’t sell but freely shares with his clients, at events and with Philatelists (Postcard Collectors). He encouraged everyone in attendance to try and send packages through the local post office and share their experiences with others. That is one way we can help develop the postal services in Nigeria.
(4) How does Postcrossing work?
Here are the following steps to becoming a Postcrosser:
- Sign up on Postcrossing website
- To send a postcard, go to ‘Postcards’ and click on ‘Send a postcard’. Read the instructions and click ‘Request address’. An address will be shared and emailed to you.
- Make sure you write out the ‘Postcard ID’ on the postcard you are sending. This is to enable the Postcrosser who receives it to register it on the website. Postcard ID from Nigeria starts with ‘NG’ (For example: NG-456)
- As a first timer you would be limited to a certain number of postcards you can send.
- When a Postcrosser receives and registers your postcard, automatically you would be eligible to receive a postcard
- As soon as you get a postcard from a Postcrosser, go ahead and register it. Go to ‘Postcards’ and click on ‘Register a postcard’. Check for the Postcard ID on your postcard (For example: RU-1234567. This postcard is from Russia) and if you want you can write a short ‘Thank You’ message below. When you do this you automatically get the chance to send a postcard to another person.
And that is how the cycle goes.
I shared my Postcrossing experience by reading out some messages I have received from Postcrossers around the world. One Postcrosser was so excited about getting an African postcard for the first time. Another Postcrosser loved the information about the picture on the postcard which gave an insight to Nigerian culture. I usually write greetings in native Nigerian languages and this usually excites Postcrossers. One Postcrosser sent me a postcard with a word in Igbo. It’s response like these that makes me love being a Postcrosser. I love that I can share my country and culture with others through handwritten postcards.
NIPOST: NIGERIAN POSTAL SERVICE
Mrs. Cecilia Nwogu, Deputy Zonal Manager (Marketing) reassured attendees that NIPOST is still very much active. They have re-branded and re-structured their services to meet up with the digital era. You can now register for a post box online. There are means of advertising your business with NIPOST that is quite affordable. NIPOST is also part of United Parcel Service (UPS) so they can deliver any where in the world. She also showed us how to write and use a stamp on a postcard.
Funmi’s tweeted ‘7 Things You Did Not Know About NIPOST’. It gained over 100 retweets within one day of posting it. It shows how interested people are about the new NIPOST.
I recently got my own personal post box at NIPOST Surulere Post Office in Lagos. It is not compulsory to have a post box to join Postcrossing. Having a valid address is all you need to send and receive postcards. You can go to any local post office to request for a personal or business post box. For a yearly fee of about N6,000 (About $17), you would be allocated a personal post box, the keys and an ID card.
END OF SESSION
Before the session ended, free postcards were shared to attendees courtesy of Lagos Laidbac, Travel Next Door and TVP Adventures. Travel Next Door offered to pay for all those who wanted to send out postcards during our session. NIPOST brought stamps to sell and offered to help post the postcard at their branch. I was happy to see a few people write and send out postcards. Some people also requested for addresses from Postcrossing.
For my Afrocentric look, I partnered with some ‘Made-In-Naija’ brands. For this session, I rocked the following:
A big thanks and kudos to the SMW Lagos team for this awesome initiative and platform. And I thank God for the opportunity to share my passion for postcards with an awesome panel. I am looking forward to hosting once again at SMW Lagos 2019 Loading….
To know how to plan, host and smash your first SMW Lagos event, check out this write up and be inspired *wink*
Photo Credit: Sir Inyene Photography