Welcome back to another week of Kid’s Corner with Angelique!
When I was eight my family moved from North Carolina to Colorado. One of the hardest things about moving was leaving my friends, my school, and all the trees in my backyard (there was a zipline). What helped me to not miss my friends as much were the letters we started writing back and forth to one another. There was a sense of anticipation and excitement in waiting for letters to arrive. I loved going to the mailbox and finding a letter inside. I not only wrote to, and received letters from, North Carolina, but also Seoul, South Korea. There was something so wonderful in getting mail, seeing the stamps from places I dreamed of traveling to one day and hearing what my friends were doing.
My letterwriting continued with family and friends when I went away to camp for a month at a time during the summer, again when I was in junior high during the Iraq war, corresponding with a serving soldier, and always with my grandparents across the country. I have had friends and significant others write loving letters from their time studying in Guatemala and Mexico, and even hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. There have been friends in difficult circumstances who have served time in jail as well as in ICE Detention Centers reaching out for connection and support. These letters were filled with poetry, pictures, drawings and memories of things they loved to keep spirits alive and to show that someone was thinking of them always. Disconnection can be very isolating and just being able to write was one way to connect and share friendship and kindness.
When email became available I would write long letters electronically and in the beginning it provided a similar feeling of anticipation upon receiving responses. When in 2006 I spent four months traveling through Kenya, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zaire, Malawi, and Tanzania I wrote a blog sharing my trip with friends and family. My dad followed along with a huge fold-out map and created a notebook from all the entries.
Four years ago I was again fortunate to be able to travel through Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Ireland and Germany. This time I mostly posted pictures on Facebook but made it a point to send postcards from every country to family, friends, and coworkers. It was a challenge finding them as well as a post office…the search being an adventure in itself. To this day, I’m not even sure they all made it to their destinations, or in some cases I beat the postcards home. I hope those on the receiving end felt the same sense of excitement I did when I got mail all those years ago as a kid.
I still have friends who write letters and send cards, and I feel loved every time I get one in the mail. I must admit I am not as prolific a letter writer as I once was but I love the idea of finding a pen pal internationally and maybe one day visiting them in their home country. In the time of technology and social media, it’s a beautiful way to meet, connect and make new friends with people from around the world. During this time of quarantine, even looking within our communities and finding a pen pal that is needing friendship and connection can lessen the loneliness and isolation many may be feeling during this time. So find your paper and pen and get writing!
Resources for finding a pen pal:
For more options in finding a pen pal, even internationally, check out the following suggestions from fellow writers: