I used to love getting letters from my friends especially in middle school. I remember sending letters to friends at sleep away camp and to friends that moved. There’s just something so special about opening an envelope that’s so much more exciting then pressing the inbox tab on your e-mail account.

This year, I am doing penpals with an old co-worker from my school in NYC. I told my students last week and they were super excited about having penpals with students in NYC. One of my students said why don’t we just e-mail them…I told them it would be much cooler to get actual letters even though it takes longer. In addition to their letters, we made a book with pictures of our school, so they could see what our school and environment looks like. I mailed the letters and now we are anxiously waiting for a reply!

The more I teach writing and write on my own, the more I realize the importance in having an authentic audience. It makes the writing much more meaningful for myself if I know other people will actually read what I write. Just some food for thought!

Some photos that my students took for the book we made:

3 thoughts on “penpals

  1. Justin Kim says:

    I agree, there is nothing like the excitement of getting a letter in the mail. I remember as a child getting letters from friends from camp and relatives, how excited I was to receive them. In today’s modern era of e-mail, facebook messages, texting, skype etc…. the younger ” google” generation really have lost touch what it is like to send and receive traditional mail. Today we live in what many call a ” microwave society.” Often times we are very impatient, and would like our food faster, even though it usually takes a minute or two. We tend to forget that not that long ago, before microwaves were even invented, our parents and grandparents cooked the traditional way which took much longer, yet I believe were much more patient. Instant gratification has been the name of the game in the modern era. However I would have to say that when one receives a letter in the mail, one feels more touched versus an e-mail. I personally feel that when someone writes me a thank you note or a letter, that they are putting much more into it emotionally rather than e-mail which takes much quicker. That is why I am a firm believer in thank you notes. Even though I must say that I am guilty of not being prompt with them, I do believe it is important to thank someone with a thank you note. I have a client who grew up in the west coast and moved out to Connecticut about 20+ years ago. Her aunt who is in her nineties has written her a letter every week since she had moved to Connecticut. My client has huge stacks of letters from her aunt who continues to write to her till this day. Needless to say, those letters are some of her prized possessions. Letters from old friends, and relatives as are photographs, are prized possessions of many. When there is a fire, the first thing someone tries to save of course are family photos, and letters. I’ve spoken to war veterans who were able to derive strength from the letters of their loved ones and vice versa. I can say one of my prized possessions is a letter that I had received from one of my sales reps when I was a branch manager, telling me in 20 pages how her experience working for me had impacted her life. I recently have discovered how important writing letters has been. I recently visited a friend of mine who is incarcerated for 3 years, and had written several letters. She had indicated visits and letters are the only thing she has to look foward to, and keeps her sane. Anyway feel free to use any of this or none of this as you see fit.

    • jeeyoung says:

      Thanks for your comment Justin! I just wrote a bunch of thank you cards today. I agree with you that hand written thank you cards are so meaningful!

  2. melody says:

    I love this Jee Young. I always had pen pals when I was little and I absolutely loved it, I even like how one of your students was like “uh, duh let’s just e-mail them.” It shows their mindset and how this generation is growing up, so much more used to technology than I was/am! I remember in fourth grade I had a pen pal in second grade from a different school and we met for a picnic… she was bigger than me, haha!

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