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Stick It! Mail It! Hear It! I Love It!

A look at Bhutan’s amazing postage stamps that are getting even more creative!

By Amanda Weng | null null , null
Kid Reporter Amanda Weng with Frances Todd Stewart. (Photo: ©Jessica Moon)
Kid Reporter Amanda Weng with Frances Todd Stewart. (Photo: ©Jessica Moon)

Stamps are usually just pieces of sticky paper added to your average white envelope, all ready to be mailed off, right? Wrong. Frances Todd Stewart, the daughter of Burt Kerr Todd, shows the world that even "pieces of sticky paper" can be made into something special—very special. Some of her stamps are made with silk, others with steel, some as CD-ROMs, and, of course, several with paper.

Through July 6, you can discover Bhutan and its unique stamps at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.

When I had the privilege of talking with Stewart, she gave me a lot of great information about Bhutan! Bhutan is a tiny Asian nation in the Himalaya mountain range that was first visited by Burt Kerr Todd in 1951. Bhutan citizens' respect for nature is very deep. Its people have agreed to keep 60 percent of the land there completely wild and untouched. Isn't that great?

Todd started Bhutan's first postage stamp program. And from the very beginning, it was unusual.

There were stamps made from silk, from which colorful backgrounds and landscapes sprang forth. There were steel stamps on which were engraved Bhutan's beautiful and exotic animals, such as its birds. There are also stamps that show the Yeti—otherwise known as Big Foot and Sasquatch. The Bhutanese people believe in the Yeti as part of their culture, so don't laugh. There is a stamp that shows the Yeti similar to a huge mountain ape or gorilla. There were even stamps made on mini vinyl records—you know, those things before CDs!

A Bhutan, CD-ROM postage stamp, on a letter-sized envelope
One of Bhutan's new CD-ROM stamps and how it fits on a letter-sized envelope. (Photo: ©Jessica Moon)

Now, Bhutan is rolling out CD-ROM stamps that tell Bhutan's history, show its great respect for nature, and display its 100-year history of kings. The CD-ROM is packaged in a paper sleeve that fits onto a letter-size envelope. When the letter is received, the CD-ROM can be taken out and put into a computer. It plays an eight-minute documentary about Bhutan and includes an Internet link to go to in order to read more about the country.

The CD-ROM stamps will be one part of Bhutan's presentation at the Folklife Festival. The program, "Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon," will showcase Bhutan's culture and population.

But another piece of the program is something called "Color-Your-Own" postcard, which promotes the message "From Gratitude Springs Happiness." Kids will be able to purchase a postcard, color the stamp included on it, and write on the postcard what they're grateful for. After they put their address on the card, they turn it in at the festival and it's brought to Bhutan. There, Bhutanese kids will receive the postcards, write what they're grateful for, and the cards will be sent back to the kids in America. This is a great way of connecting to a new culture, and it could lead to kids in Bhutan and America becoming pen pals!

Bhutan's stamps are wondrous and mystical, and Frances Todd Stewart is helping to keep them that way.

If you want to learn more about Bhutan, visit www.bhutantoday.net. To learn more about its superb stamps, go to www.bhutanpostagestamps.com. And if you're in Washington, D.C., you can explore Bhutan and its stamps at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival through July 6.

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About the Author

Amanda Weng is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.



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