why everyone needs a pen pal

Why Everyone Should Have a Penpal!

Did you ever have a pen pal as a kid?  Maybe it was a school project. Do you remember your pen pal’s name?

Having a pen pal is a powerful experience. Long before the Internet, pens and paper connected people and cultures that would never cross paths otherwise.

Why Everyone Should Have a Pen pal

Having a pen pal is not just for kids anymore. Access to the Internet does not make pen pals obsolete. Here are some of the benefits.

Learn Something New

One of the best reasons for connecting with someone far away is to learn something new.  By writing letters and asking questions, you will learn first hand information.

Learning is a never ending process. Pen pals give you the opportunity to learn more about your own interests. Who knows what other interests and information you will discover from your pen pal!

The More You Know, the More You Grow

Learning something new isn’t the only benefit. As you learn, your brain grows and changes. These changes improve the physical makeup of your brain.

It’s not just your brain, your mind changes, too. Learning and exploring open your mind to new ideas. It sparks curiosity, which leads to more learning.

Letter Writing Is a Dying Art

What was once common practice is now a dying art. Writing letters has been replaced with email, Skype, and texting. These are all efficient and helpful in many ways. However, modern technology is lacking the human touch of a hand written letter.

While pen pals do not have strictly use a pen, it is a nice touch.  The bonus is your handwriting will improve with practice. Writing by hand also stimulates brain connections that make your brain better.

Start a Global Collection

Pen pals are a great way to start or add to a collection. The easiest collection to create is stamps. Stamps are essential to get mail from one place to another. They also tell the story of their country of origin. Celebrities, common plants and animals, geographic features, holidays, and historical events are all featured on stamps.

If you are looking for something a little different, you could try a tea exchange. Tea bags are light and easy to enclose in a letter. Now that is a delicious project!

Get Some Real Mail

Seems like there is continually more mail in the mailbox. However most of it is not anything you really want. Bills, advertisements, and catalogs make up the bulk of each delivery.

Having a pen pal can put excitement back into getting the mail. Now when you open an envelope, it will have pages you actually want to read and savor.

The Human Connection

Pen pals can grow into great friends. Even if you never meet face to face, lifelong friendships are possible.  We are more familar with this type of friendship because of social media. However, letter writing pen pals enjoy a privacy that cannot be found online.

Cross culture friendships build understanding.  Understanding each other leads to a new peace. It also encourages cooperation.

Northern Ireland has been torn apart with misunderstanding and conflict for generations. To help end the strife, programs have been developed to bring young people from both sides, Catholic and Protestant, together in a neutral location to just get to know each other.

Knowing leads to accepting.  Once you can see your similarities, it is harder to focus on your difference. Globally minded people see what unites us.

How to Find a Pen Pal

Finding a pen pal may sound difficult in a world that is so interconnected yet very isolating. There are still many ways to get yourself involved in a pen pal project.

It’s All about Who You Know

Start thinking of friends or family who have connections in another part of the world. Perhaps they are business contacts or college friends. However they know each other, this is an easy way to find a pen pal.

Missionaries are also a great resource. They can serve as pen pals wherever they are stationed. They can also find locals from their mission field who are interested in being a pen pal.

Websites to Use

If you have exhausted your personal connections and still haven’t found a pen pal, there are website that can help. Here are a couple to try. Each of these offers a slightly different pen pal experience.

  • Snail mail Penpals: This site will match you with a pen pal that has similar interest. It’s a traditional pen and paper pen pal set up with a twist. Participants craft and send creative mail for pen pals to enjoy.
  • Postcrossing: This is not a pen pal service but you could find a pen pal here. Postcrossings allows you to send postcards around the world to random people. In return, you receive postcards back. Talk about global mail!
  • Global Penfriends: This website will match snail mail and internet based pen pals. It is free to join. Global Penfriends is open to all ages. It allows you to search by interest and age group.

There are many more pen pal sites on the web. For more information. Visit our Pinterest Pen Pal board.

Have you ever had a pen pal?

 

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Five Reasons to Learn Another Language

Our world is shrinking. Not the physical world, but our connectedness and interdependence is bringing the far reaches of our planet right to our door step.  Global commerce and increased ease of travel, not to mention virtual communication, are creating a future where circumnavigating the globe will not only be possible at lightening speed, but necessary to maintain business and political relations on a daily basis.

Google Translate Is All I Need

With advances in Artificial Intelligence and intuitive software, the ability of computer generated translation has skyrocketed.  New programs are able to translate in real time via voice recognition. This leads many to believe that learning a second or third language is obsolete.

Just as understanding of geography and map skills should never be replaced with reliance on GPS systems, learning a foreign language can never be usurped by an app on your phone.  Technology has limitations. Even the best software will not be correct 100% of the time.  In addition, technology can fail due to user error, loss of power, or computer viruses.

The need for another language is growing, not shrinking. Here are five reasons why you should start to learn a new language today!

  1. Job Prospects: Knowing a second language has huge career advantages.  It not only makes you more employable, leading to greater choice of jobs in a difficult economy, being bi-lingual provides for higher salaries as well.  Employees able to speak more than one language are great assets to companies competing in the global marketplace.
  2. Brain Power: Learning something new is the best exercise for your brain. Moreover, language learning is the apex of brain development. Learning another language not only flexes your gray matter to keep it in top shape, it helps to stave off brain related disease such as Alzheimer and Dementia. By creating an infrastructure of multiple neural pathways, learning and using a second language has been show to push off development of brain disorders by over 4.5 years!
  3. Cultural Understanding: Learning the language of a country or region not only opens doors of communication but immerses you in the nuances of the culture. Language is a living organism. It grows, changes, and adapts to the ways and history of the people who speak it.  By learning the language, you will understand the people’s culture and be more able to interrelate on a personal level.  You will become integrated into the experience instead of just looking from the outside in!
  4. Understand Your Native Tongue: Since a first language is always acquired organically, the use of grammar is something that is understood and rarely analyzed. However, by studying a second language, you will gain an appreciation and proficiency in your native language that cannot be learned otherwise.  This leads to better communication in both languages and improved writing and reading skills.
  5. Build Bridges to New Gateways Where could another language take you? Anywhere you want!  Our technology affords us the opportunity to travel without passport or plane ticket. Features such as Skype, Facebook, and Youtube open the door to the world–a rich world full of endless learning possibilities.  Language learning is the key to this pathway, for if you get to the door but don’t know the secret password (in this case understanding to the target language) even the best technology will leave you out in the cold.

As One Planet, One People, let’s work for not only greater interdependence but greater understanding.  Learning is not a one way street. What you learn not only enriches your life, but connects you to others and builds bridges.

To where will you build a bridge today?

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