Become a modern day pen palOct 26, 2020 11:31AM ● By Melanie Wiseman
Travel challenged? Become a pen pal.
Jumping on a plane and traveling to the other side of the world is challenging these days, but it’s not impossible to immerse yourself in different cultures without ever leaving home.
Instead of picking up pen and paper, pen pals have evolved into “e-pals” or “key pals”—writing a text, sending an email or recording an audio message.
I became a modern day e-pal with Methew from Arusha, Tanzania, after I met him at a Serengeti safari camp earlier this year (read more about my trip on page 28). I knew I wanted to know more about this gentle and kind person, so I gave him my contact information.
A few weeks after returning home to Colorado, I received an email from him. I was elated, and our regular chats have lifted my spirits in the weeks since.
I share pictures of my camping trips, hikes and outdoor adventures with Methew, and he proudly sends pictures of his wife as well as his two sons enrolled in university. The names now have faces.
We’ve discussed his lack of work in the travel field due to COVID-19, the little bit of farming he tends to, and the many other things we have in common. It’s also election time in Tanzania. Yet, he boasts of our open democracy compared to the challenges of theirs, where most people don’t bother voting due to the predictability and lack of change.
Methew inspires me with his positive spirit, reminding me that “every situation has its end” when praying for the elbow I fractured this summer. My dear Tanzanian friend wished me a speedy recovery and let me know that, if I were in his country, his tradition would’ve been to slaughter a goat for quick healing!
Although the method of communication has changed, we still have the opportunity for a rich and personal cultural exchange with people outside our borders. So find a pen pal to connect with and write on!
Safe ways of finding a modern day pen palThe Internet makes it easier than ever to communicate with people all over the world. While websites such as www.penpalworld.com and www.globalpenfriends.com offer secure ways of chatting without revealing your personal information, Friendship Force of Western Colorado is a verified, local alternative.
Friendship Force International (FFI) is a worldwide network of clubs driven by the belief that one of the best ways to achieve world peace is through friendship and cultural understanding. The nonprofit gives members the opportunity to make new friends in the U.S. and abroad through inbound and outbound journeys and social activities.