Author Topic: Anyone have a pen pal when they were a kid?  (Read 191 times)

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Offline Chino

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Anyone have a pen pal when they were a kid?
« on: August 21, 2018, 08:03:01 AM »
Story time.

My mom used to sponsor a family in Uganda through CCF. She'd give them like $25 a month or something like that, and my mother and the mother of the family in Uganda used to exchange letters. I used to write to the daughter who was around my age. We wrote back and forth from when I was 8 years old to about 11. Every couple of weeks I'd get a letter, and every couple of weeks she'd get one from me. The organization got out of the area and the letters between our families stopped.

Two weeks ago, this woman with broken English messages me on facebook saying "Hi Brian. Are you sponsor? Please respond so I know". I immediately dismissed this as a scam and just let it be. Two days ago, the woman messages me again. This time she says. "Hi Brian. Are you the son of Linda and Joe, and Kelly is your sister? This is you? [attached photo] Please respond so I know". She included a picture of me at the age of 9 in my baseball uniform. It was then I realized who this girl was, and instantly recalled writing a letter to her describing the game of baseball in response to her writing to me about a game called Seven Stones that her and her friends used to play.

We got to chatting a bit and she at one point said "You gave me hope when I was hopeless". I was completely taken by it. It kind of blew me away that something I wrote to a complete stranger twenty years ago had that kind of an impact. A person, a poverty stricken child, thousands of miles away, who I never actually met, whose name I admittedly didn't even remember, hunted me down to tell me I made some kind of imprint on their life. Who would have ever thought? She wanted to tell me she ended up going to college and got a degree in Economics, though she can't find a job where she lives. She asked me to thank my mom for the financial contributions for those few years because it allowed her to go to school, get a backpack, and do homework. The power of words, man.

It really makes me want to sponsor a family, and if I ever have kids, I kind of like the idea of a pen pal, even if they could just message them on Facebook (or whatever the platform will be when that time comes).


« Last Edit: August 21, 2018, 10:25:52 AM by Chino »

Offline jasc15

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Re: Anyone have a pen pal when they were a kid?
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2018, 08:22:04 AM »
That's really something.  I clicked this thread to mention that my 5th grade teacher set up our class with pen pals, and mine was a girl from Nebraska.  At 10 years old, that might as well have been Uganda for me.  Unfortunately I really don't remember any specific exchanges between us.

Online Destiny Of Chaos

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Re: Anyone have a pen pal when they were a kid?
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2018, 08:35:00 AM »
That was an awesome story!


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Offline gmillerdrake

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Re: Anyone have a pen pal when they were a kid?
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2018, 09:53:56 AM »
Awesome story Brian...it really is. So cool that modern tech. helped reunite you guys.

It kind of blew me away that something I wrote to a complete stranger twenty years ago had that kind of an impact.

It is remarkable to think that a simple act of kindness in any form whether it be some small amount of cash given each month to just a kind moment shared between people can affect people profoundly down the road.

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Online Phoenix87x

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Re: Anyone have a pen pal when they were a kid?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2018, 02:27:14 PM »
In 3rd grade, my teacher set up us to pen pals with some hawaiian school kids. It was pretty cool.
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Offline pg1067

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Re: Anyone have a pen pal when they were a kid?
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2018, 11:30:04 AM »
That's a beyond awesome story!

I vaguely recall having a pen pal at one point, but I think it didn't amount to much more than me sending a letter, getting one back, sending another, and then that was it.  I want to say the other kid was somewhere in western Europe, but I could be completely wrong about that.  I don't remember exactly what the impetus for it was.

I would think the concept of pen pals has largely died out in the internet age.  Although there are large groups who don't have computers or internet access, I suspect those folks are not too likely to send letters.  But maybe.
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Online Kattelox

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Re: Anyone have a pen pal when they were a kid?
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2018, 11:36:55 AM »
Cool thread, cool stories. I don't really have a pen pal. The closest I have are Internet friends I made when I was a young teenager. We don't talk much anymore but once in a while we'll communicate and mention new music we've checked out. But back in the day we'd chat all the time and got to know each other very well. Then there are the others I used to talk to a lot, or a few times a month, or we'd chat in MMORPGs together - and eventually simply lost contact. Still wonder about some of them.
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Online lordxizor

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Re: Anyone have a pen pal when they were a kid?
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2018, 05:43:19 AM »
I remember having a pen pal from Kiribati back in elementary school. Once the school year ended we stopped writing unfortunately.

My family is currently sponsoring a boy in Asia somewhere, drawing a blank on the exact country. Kind of cool to get letters from him every now and then.

Offline dparrott

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Re: Anyone have a pen pal when they were a kid?
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2018, 01:17:17 PM »
Not when I was a kid, but in the 90's I had penpals through Blur's fanzine.  I even had a long distance relationship with one of them.  It was my first real exposure to people from other countries.
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Offline MirrorMask

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Re: Anyone have a pen pal when they were a kid?
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2018, 03:53:23 AM »
I vaguely recall having a pen pal at one point, but I think it didn't amount to much more than me sending a letter, getting one back, sending another, and then that was it.

More or less my experience. All I recall is that within certain terms you could somehow pick who to write to, and I was like "I hope I get a boy, what can I possibly talk about with a girl?"  ;D

Also, it was not really a pen pal thing but I remember meeting somehow on the internet a girl from Thailandia and she sent me a postcard from there. She mentioned going to Pucket, I remember when the disaster hit there thinking about her and if she was somehow involved.

Your story Chino is of course awesome. It's nice to see the positive side of the global connection, and how little gestures means a lot to people.
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