Saturday, April 2, 2011

I have friends from all over the world

I have mentioned in my previous post that my penfriends was one of the reasons that contributed to the expansion of my stamp collections. So for today I thought of sharing with you of how I managed to gain friends through letter writing.

It started everything with International Youth Service (IYS), a Finland based company. The company maintains a database of students from different countries. If you want to have a penfriend at your age from a particular country, IYS could help you for a minimal fee. IYS's process starts through this form

IYS Form
You have to provide some information about yourself and your penfriend preference. IYS charges $1.10 for one penfriend requested. After some months you will be given the name and address of a possible penfriend.

What I appreciate about IYS is their service guarantee. They replace names of penfriends who do not respond.   

Unfortunately today, IYS is no longer existing. The company was forced to stop its operations due to the low number of clientele. It appears that only a few students are becoming interested to letter writing. The presence of social networking sites and all those advanced technologies provided alternatives to students to meet different people. Another reason perhaps is because students today are after all no longer interested in letter writing.

I learned of IYS' closure last year. It turns out that they stopped operations back in 2008. I felt sad because IYS has a special place in my growing up years. I was very shy and quiet as a kid. My life back then was school and home. IYS was one of the few things that brought happiness and excitement in my quiet and simple childhood.

I gained letter writing buddies turned friends from Thailand, Brunei, Korea, Brazil, Germany, and Turkey. Some managed to send me once, twice letters from Tanzania, Mauritius and Kazahkstan.

 Some of the letters that I have been keeping.

These letters are from Azlina of Brunei. Things I will never forget about her, we both love Backstreet Boys, she uses almost the same envelopes, she's a Muslim but she sends me Christmas cards and she never forgets my birthday, and when I asked for her picture she told that she has a policy. Strict? She told me that I should not show her picture to anyone. hahaha! Unfortunately, I can't remember when did we stop sending letters to each other. If you are reading this my friend, I hope we could reconnect again.

These are from Atcharee of Thailand. She was my first penfriend and we exchanged letters for the longest time. We still wrote letters before I graduated from college. I wanted to reconnect with her again so I read her letters and found her email address. Thanks to Facebook! I found her! What I remember about Atcharee, she also sends me Christmas cards though she is a Buddhist, she loves Lion King, she loves to draw, she never forgets my birthday and she makes her own cards.
 I gained some friends from Korea too. We managed to exchange a few letters only.

I had two penfriends from Germany. One of them is Kathrin from Lehrberg. Though we exchanged only a few letters, I hope she still remembers me. I told Kathrin that I study in a school exclusive for girls and this was Kathrin's reply

I hope you can still read the letter. Please particularly read the second paragraph. Kathrin said "Is your school without boys boring? I can't imagine that." You made me laugh Kathrin.

My other penfriend from Germany named Christina made the same remark
If I related my story to my friend Duni of Germany, will she have the same reaction too? hehehe

Letter writing is fun. Gaining friends by mere exchange of letters doubles the fun. I hope some kids today will still find interest in this activity. But with the advent of email and other forms of technology, there's a small chance for kids to appreciate letter writing, as much as I did.  


  1. What a special post! Thanks for sharing this story with us. I think penpals are special, too. No one writes letters anymore. It is becoming a lost art! I say let's bring it back! :D

    Ricki Jill

  2. Hi Diane! Oh, another wonderful post! I had a penpal when I was in elementary and don't even remember where she lived! :)
    Too bad folks don't do this today.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  3. I had a pen friend from France when I was a teenager! I still have my letters! It's FUN! ♥


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