Be an armchair ambassador for the U.S.: get a pen pal
I remember when I got my first pen pal: Mademoiselle Anderson’s freshman year French I class at Maurice J. McDonough High School. In the intervening decades, I’ve had pen pals from every inhabited continent. Even in this digital age, I communicate by postal mail ... because it’s nice getting happy mail.
Pen pals can provide perspective on world news in their countries and a long-term relationship with friendly benefits. My first time to France, my pen pal and her father picked me up from the airport and allowed me to stay with them while I was getting settled in the Paris region. I have had pen pals help me with my French as I progressed in the language. And I’m also able to be an armchair ambassador for the U.S., explaining the nuances of life here, to counter the incorrect views espoused in music videos and movies.
In tandem with your foreign-born neighbor to whom you can speak every day, I encourage children and adults alike to get a pen pal. Penpalling is a great way to augment your education and to travel without leaving your home. Not every pen pal will become a lasting friendship, but for the time you are writing them, there is always opportunity to learn something new. Keep calm and write on. Katherine Cooper Buehler, Waldorf