Pen pals are long-distance friendships you maintain by writing letters to each other.
The best pen pals are usually those who have an interest in learning about different people, cultures and languages. They want to connect with the world outside their borders, but on a more personal level.
Traditionally these pen pal opportunities would have been advertised in a newspaper or magazine. There would be a short profile about the person who was looking for a pen pal, and you could decide to send them a letter based how well your interests matched up.
This might sound like an odd way to start a friendship, but many pen pals go on to become best friends and forge lifelong bonds thanks to these common interests.
Nona Avery and Alice Powers are a great example of this. After seeing Alice listed as an American looking for a pen pal in a popular girl’s annual, Nona sent a letter to her from her home in England. She received a response two weeks later, and they’ve been sending bi-weekly letters to each other for the last 72 years!
Technology has changed how pen pals find each other, with many websites offering to connect pals from all across the globe. But the written word remains at the core of their relationship, whether that’s through an app like CityMity or good old fashioned pen and paper.