Pen Pals and/or Cultural Exchanges



February 22, 2002

I get lots of requests for pen pals on many levels:

People, young and old, ask if I can set them up with a correspondent.  Villages have asked if I know of a sister town they can exchange with.  Two elementary school classes have shown interest in writing to other classrooms.  If you are interested in one of these sorts of exchanges, please let me know.  It would be helpful, but not a requirement, if you could write in French.

One word of warning - you must be prepared for any of these pen pal relationships to turn into a plea for money, marriage, and/or US citizenship.  I get at least one request per day for these.  I am used to it now, and have strategies in place to refuse the requests.  If you would have difficulty refusing sending financial support, I suggest you steer clear of a pen pal relationship in Africa.

That might sound harsh, but from my experiences here, it's reality.  (We all live like the people on "Dallas," don't we???)  That said, if you can refuse requests for money and citizenship, a pen pal exchange can be a rewarding way to learn about people in other parts of the world.