by Julia Veik
There it is. Tucked between ads and bills is a letter from a fellow student who lives halfway around the globe. In a world where technology reigns supreme, receiving a handwritten letter has become a sporadic experience. But having a pen pal has made receiving letters more common for some Marian students. So, whether they live across the globe, or simply across state lines, having a pen pal can be a valuable experience.
In the Servite Connections Club, students have been given the chance to write to students attending the Servite College located in Perth, Australia. The students participating in this club focus on the core values, Marian’s identity as a Servite school and building relationships with the other Servite schools around the globe.
The first group of Marian girls involved in the club began to write to pen pals in 2013 after English teacher Ms. Susie Sisson visited the Servite school in Australia and met a fellow English teacher, Mr. Daniel Hopkins, who was excited about the prospect of starting a pen pal exchange.
Sisson believes that exchanging letters is a nice way to learn about people who live in another part of the world, and that receiving a handwritten letter is better than an email or other form of social media.
“I feel like handwritten letters are a dying art; because of the ease of technology it’s not as necessary anymore to use the handwritten note. I think because it’s rare, it’s special, and it’s such a lovely tradition that I don’t think should ever go away. Even though with these Australian students it would be easy and quick to communicate with them via email or social media, I like the handwritten letters,” Sisson said.
Junior Mia McGrath is one of many students who has benefited from the Servite Connections Club’s pen pal program. She has been exchanging letters with a freshman named Brooke, who lives in Perth, Australia, for around a year through the Servite Connections Club. They can only send each other around three letters a year because their school years don’t line up well, but they still cherish every letter.
“I just enjoy receiving a letter. It feels so much more special when it’s written out. It’s nice to know they took the time to write to you and vice versa,” McGrath said.
The members of the Servite Connections Club are not the only Marian students who are currently benefiting from a pen pal program. In the Mandarin I class, taught by Mrs. Jessie Guo, students were able to practice their Chinese by sending letters to Chinese students living in Zhengzhou City, in the Henan Province of China. Not only did the letters allow the class to practice their character writing, but it also gave them a glimpse into the lives of the Chinese students and their culture.
“People always are curious about another culture- what the people’s lives looks like for those living on the other side of the world, even as simple as what they eat,” Guo said.
In the class, freshman Lydia Rose had a chance to exchange letters with a Chinese student named Lì Yǐng Zhào. The content of their letters has ranged from Lì Yǐng’s piano playing to the differences in their high schools. In Lì Yǐng’s school in China, the students board during the school year, but they can go home for celebrations such as the Spring Festival.
“I think it’s valuable to learn the culture a bit more, and then they get to learn our culture, which I think is nice too,” Rose said.
Having a pen pal can be a chance to encounter exciting new cultures from all around the world. All it takes is an envelope, a stamp and a moment of time.