June 1st is National Pen Pal Day
“A pen pal is someone with whom you correspond by writing letters, sharing personal events and many times have never even met. There are many benefits to having pen pals, too.
- Pen pals offer us a broader view of the world.
- We improve our writing skills.
- Writing letters also give us a break from technology.
- If your pen pal speaks another language, your correspondence expands each other’s language.
- Having a pen pal promotes delayed gratification. Once we write a letter, we have to wait to hear back from our pen pal.”
When I was a kid, having a pen pal was a part of elementary school. It played a role in helping to build my interest in writing and reading as well as my skills. It was also intended to help increase my verbal communication by encouraging me to engage in discussions with adults and peers about the things I might be learning. Having a pen pal widened my world in a way nothing else could have because it gave me an interactive way to connect with someone different from me.
As I got older, I continued having a pen pal – this one was from Belarus (also known as White Russia), which was really something since I lived during the Cold War and experienced the Fall of the Berlin Wall during our correspondences. Now, I had many close friends who were in the US on student visas, even while in high school (their parents were doctors or professors) as well as friends rescued from, or related to, the Viet Nam war. International diversity was a normal part of my life, so it canceled out the racism of ignorant bigots (FYI – I grew up in south Minneapolis where the George Floyd riots happened). However, having a pen pal from a rival superpower… that was phenomenal and a blessing I am thankful for even today.
I learned a great deal from my pen pal. Not only was he from a different culture and political ideology, but also, Sergey was male. He had a different faith from me, especially since Russia hadn’t allowed freedom of religion. Those are some pretty hefty topics, but discussed them all. We even worked to share each other’s language (as English was not his native tongue).
What my pen pal did for me was beyond literacy. He gave me a sense of the world beyond ME. He taught me of life and people I never imagined, encouraging me to seek out the history not taught in schools. He made me less afraid of the changes in the world because I saw how connected we all really were as well how necessary changes are – not to make us homogeneous (we NEED diversity to grow), but to make us accepting, knowledgeable, and balanced.
Clearly, I am a huge proponent for pen pals. It not only instils the writing, reading, and communicative skills vital for our society, but also, it teaches us how to see, feel, and understand beyond our own experiences. Celebrate with great joy today and make wonderous connections to unite our world!
“A long-term project like writing to a pen pal is a great way to consistently work on reading and writing.”https://shop.scholastic.com/parents/books-and-reading/raise-a-reader-blog/promote-reading-writing-and-patience-pen-pal.html