We ran our first Pen Pal Match Up last January in celebration of International Correspondence Writing Month, and it was such a hit we’re running it again. You can read about our last match-up here, and a bit of the behind the scenes on it here.
It’s actually really exciting to see how many people are interested in writing letters and paper correspondence and connecting with people around the world, and it’s even more thrilling that we get to help facilitate some of this. Given to me by a pen pal, one of my favourite books that has to do with letter writing is Geraldine Brooks’ “Foreign Correspondence,” which is a memoir of some of her early life writing to pen pals and discovering the world, and I would love if Caleb got to grow up with a bit of this. What a gift!
Like last time, we’re doing this through Google Forms: we’re going to take everyone’s information, and shuffle it all up in a bingo roller. Just kidding.
What we actually do is read your information and try to match you up based on when my spidey sense tingles (I suppose this also sounds like I’m kidding again, but I’m not). It’s a bit of hocus pocus and a bit of luck, which is basically how we’ve flown through life so far.
We send your name and mailing address to someone new, and you receive someone else’s information. In the end, you’ll have two pen pals: one you wrote to first, and one who writes to you first.
We (I) learned a lot of things from the logistics of last time.
One big difference is that rather than matching people based on preferences for long-term/short-term correspondence, domestic/international, hobbies, etc., we’re going to go by more of a gut feel this time, and also loosely by age. This is going to give us a bit more flexibility, but also sometimes the best friendships are the most serendipitous ones.
Secondly, we would really appreciate if you could please check your junk email for your match up and for additional correspondence from us directly related to this match up.
Please submit a complete and full mailing address. It should look exactly like it would if someone was sending you a letter from Australia or Japan or the United States, which someone very might well be. Here’s a sample!
105-250 Carlaw Avenue
If we need to email you because of incomplete information, you need to email us back as soon as possible. Unfortunately, if you are unable to check your email because of travel, illness, spam folders, life taking over, and you are unable to give us your completed information, you forfeit your place in our pen pal match up.
There are a lot of moving pieces here, mainly in the form of a chain where one person writes to someone else who writes to someone else who writes to someone else, if we cannot get complete information from you, unfortunately we cannot hold a place for you. We will be thinking of you fondly, though, and if there are enough people for a second mini-round, we will include you in it. Your best bet is to give us your complete information in the form in the first place! 🙂
Everyone joining in our match up must be okay with receiving an international correspondent. The option in the match up form indicates only a preference, but there is a chance one or both of your pen pals will be international.
Last time we had a lot of international pen pals (outside of Canada) requesting domestic matches – unfortunately, with the majority of our correspondents are in Canada, and with the potential of only a few pen pals coming from your specific country, it’s not an option we can offer with certainty if you are outside of Canada. We’ll try our best, but no guarantees – please keep this in mind when signing up for our match up, and be ready to commit to writing to an international pen pal if that’s what you get matched with.
This time we’ve set up the form to automatically send you back your answers. If you notice something amiss, please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible.
If you do not receive an email with your answers, it is a sign your form did not get submitted correctly and you need to try again. If you are worried about submitting your information online, or if you’re having a lot of technical difficulties, you are welcome to mail us your information (including the contact email address) and we’ll add you to our match-up. Unfortunately if we do not receive either your physical mail or your Google Form by August 22nd, we will not be able to include you in this summer’s pen pal match up.
And lastly, if your pen pal does not write you back, or if your pen pal who was supposed to you first never writes, there’s nothing we can do about this. We’re terribly sorry to hear when this does happen, but we’re hoping everyone is operating in good faith! Life also happens, and we never know what ends up on someone else’s plate in between signing up for the match and when it’s time to start writing.
Tuesday, August 22nd – Match Up Closes
Friday, August 25th – Please check your emails to see if there was any additional information we need from you.
Monday, August 28th – We begin to send out matches.
Friday, September 1st – If you haven’t received your pen pal by September 1st, please email us email@example.com
I’m finding myself, personally, in a really wonderful and comfortable place in letter writing, now that I’ve passed the slightly awkward beginning stages with a few of my pen pals that I started writing with a few years ago, when it can sometimes be a bit of a chore to write because you don’t really know them.
It’s sometimes hard to get to know someone over paper, but after you reach the stage where you think to yourself that you’d genuinely enjoy hanging out with them, it’s delightful to receive their letters and to write back. Like most everything in life, creating friendships over correspondence is very much what you put into it: the effort you put into sharing stories and insights into your life, as well as how long you take to respond – although of course I’m no stranger to letter correspondence sit for a few months.