El Gets International Pen Pals

Pen pals! Do you remember the time when you paid a few dollars to get pen pals from all over the world? There was a service which my classmates told me about.

I remember I had pen pals from Indonesia, Hong Kong and Italy. The one from Hong Kong lasted the longest, because I think we liked Andy Lau. Or was that the one from Indonesia? I remember learning how to write traditional Chinese script because that was what the one from Hong Kong wrote to me in. Her English was not good, so we used Chinese to communicate, even though she was probably thinking in Cantonese then.

I learnt my Chinese words through the lyrics from my Andy Lau CD sleeves. I had a table that showed both the simplified and traditional versions, so that it would be easier for me to keep track. Then, probably we got too busy, and then we stopped. Emails became popular then.

Just recently, Hoagies’ decided to start a thread on finding penpals for the young ones. I volunteered El and a few responded. The children were similar in ages and had some common interests. I was looking for true peers for El. The first two were A and E. One is from USA and the other is from UK. Both were a year older than El.

I told El to write something.

He was so excited that he thought they would visit Singapore. I told him to write about some of his favourite things. He wrote everything without punctuation, so I asked him to add them in. Next, I told him to draw some pictures to decorate the cards. It is interesting to see that he drew a flower for E and dinosaurs (allosaurus and fabrosaurus) for A.
letter to a

letter to e

With the letters written, I bought the stamps. It costs S$1.30 to send to Europe and USA.
pasting a stamp
I got him to stick them and then we posted the letters.

There was a letter box just outside our place. He chose the ‘Other Countries’ slot and pushed the letters in.
posting the letter

After about 8 to 10 days, one of them said her child had received El’s letter. A few days later, we received both letters!
El was very excited about the letters.
el gets his letters1

el opening his letter

He read them aloud. He actually thought that E’s birthday was a few days from his, because she wrote a date there. He also liked the pictures they drew. I guess all the children love to draw!

Gar also wants a piece of the action!
gar reading letter

Now, we will find time to write a reply. He did not seem to understand the word ‘reply’ that much, but already he is wondering what to write. I gave him some suggestions in the car about that when he broached the subject, so I guess he has an idea on what to write.
Hope this is sustainable in a world of emails.

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