Pen Pals: Connecting across the globe

by | Oct 19, 2022 | Opinion

I first learned about pen pals by writing a friend that I met while I was on holiday at 16, but it wasn’t until 2020 that writing letters really became a passion. I have pen pals from all over Canada and around the world, and at my peak, was writing about 30 letters a month.

My favourite pen pal memory happened near my birthday in July of 2020. Covid was at a peak, and the isolation was very difficult as I am a high-risk individual. Even though I am only 20, I have the lungs of a 70-year-old, so I had to avoid public spaces even more than other people. It was a big change, as before the pandemic spread to Canada, I would go out almost every day. I always enjoyed getting out of the house, even just to run errands.

Until I was vaccinated, I had to be more careful than ever and only do what was necessary. My main outing was to the post office once a week, preferably on Fridays. I always looked forward to seeing a letter for me to respond to and keep me busy, but often the box was empty.

On July 3rd, I went to check the box like normal. it was my birthday the next day, and I was not expecting a lot of mail because there had been postal disruptions. Plus, there had been nothing when my family had checked the box for the previous weeks. But, it turned out that my mom had placed a hold on my mail because she had planned a big surprise for my birthday the next day. Many family members and friends helped with this surprise, including the pen pals that my mom connected with. She had asked friends and family to write to me. She also joined a couple of Canadian and worldwide pen pal Facebook groups and posted to ask members to be part of the surprise.

My frustration with the pandemic interrupting the mail service paid off on my birthday, and the trip to the post office was well worth the wait. After my mom went in and spoke with the postmistress for a while, she came out and started to record me walking into the post office while I opened a surprisingly stuffed mailbox. The video, later posted to Facebook, showed my stunned and very happy reaction to the amazing experience.

The postmistress was behind the counter just giggling away with glee happy to have helped and watching my surprise to get so many unexpected letters, cards, and postcards. It’s a memory I’ll always remember. On the drive home, I said, “I’m going to be beaming my biggest smile for a long time with this pile of mail for me.”

Being a pen pal can be super rewarding. If anyone is interested in becoming pen pals or if you want tips on how to get started/start writing your first or 101st letter, you can reach me at so that we can chat. I’m always happy to help and of course, write to anyone who would be interested and wants to connect!

Here are some of my favourite tips and tricks for writing pen pals:

Tip 1) If you’re just starting to write a pen pal, introduce yourself and talk a little bit about yourself.

Tip 2) Be creative!! Use stickers and rock tape or washi tape to decorate your note and/or your envelope. I personally like using stickers on the back and front of my envelopes.

Tip 3) Make sure your address and their address is printed neatly and clearly or else your letter will likely be returned to you. I like using Avery labels.

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