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Hello Pen Pals!

April 5, 2011

Due to having some swanky connections in Maryland and some not-so-passive-aggressive hints from students, I’ve been able to start a pen pal program at Sinwol.

I’m excited to have students on both sides who can’t wait to get started. But as fun as this has been and as easy as it might seem, this program is quite a bit of work.

Assorted by student number, each student's envelope accompanied by a cute label and stickers!

1. I had to gather all the interested students. This was terribly easy at first because i would sit at my desk and students would say “I want a penpal” and that was that. But word quickly spread about the program and I suddenly found myself without much free time between classes. Any time at my desk was game for a bombardment of students to demand pen pals. This is fine by me but I suspect the teachers who sat by me were…annoyed to say the least. I ended up with about 50 names, of which I suspected half would bail or forget by the time I got started. I have about 35 now.

2. Getting information was entertaining in the most boring way imaginable. In order to match students with American pen pals, I asked some of their favorite hobbies and music choices. Almost every student listed “listening to music” and “pop” respectively. This was…fine, I guess until I got the list from the teacher back home. It hadn’t really occured to me that the students would be so different. American students mostly play sports or have extracurricular activities outside of academia. While many of the Korean students play instruments or take taekwondo lessons, most spend their time after school…in school.

3. Meeting. Last Friday, I met all the students to give them their penpal’s name and the low down on what would be happening. Each student is alotted an envelope’s worth of space to fill with gifts, stickers or letters for their penpal. I hope to send the envelopes by this Friday. On Friday, I’ll give them the email address in exchange for the letter. I gave students ideas for what to write about and actually had to define what kinds of things not to send (No, students, I cannot mail mandu). 

4. Managing stuff at my desk has been the most tedious part so far. Because I have indeed learned from what happens when you give students stuff with the hopes they’ll retain it by the next day, I am keeping the envelopes at my desk along with stuff to decorate the envelopes. Word continues to spread about the program which just attracts students I can’t really help at this point but who talk at me anyway. I worry about the English that’s being sent mostly because many students will tell me they don’t speak English and hand me their letters at the same time. I help a little bit on that front…who knows what will really be sent out.

 Anyway, despite the stress, I’m terribly excited for my students. I hope that they can really enjoy this chance to use English and maybe make a friend abroad.

If you’re a pen pal from Sinwol OR Wilde Lake, you can access photos in the page Pen Pal Photos & More! You can ask Kristin or Ms. Berla for the password.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Angel Cartagena permalink
    April 6, 2011 5:05 pm

    Hi Kristin!!!

    The Pen Pal program is a wonderful opportunity for the kids. I’m so very proud of you.

    Praying for you every day Sweetie. God bless you and keep you.


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