Pen Pals in Malaysia


This year, English 11, more commonly known as Journalism, had the chance to commit to a program which would change a student’s life for the better: Pen Pals in Malaysia. This intriguing program was organized by Katie Dunn, a John Jay graduate. Ms. Bryant, our teacher, offered fifteen slots open for any Journalism student interested in taking part in this opportunity. It started about two weeks ago and has already progressively made a visible change in my classmates and me.

Each John Jay student was assigned an SMK Kidurong student, so we all look forward to our own personalized letter each week. The first week our class wrote to our pen pals, the anticipation for a response rose each day. My friends and I could hardly contain ourselves when Ms. Bryant announced she had our letters. As we received them, the class had already commenced and we knew we had no time to read the full-length page, but we secretly still did anyway. Our first impressions were “wow, their English is amazing!” Another student exclaimed, “TED Talks? I hardly passed my regular English class last year!” Yes, you read correctly, a few of our pen pals were already giving speeches at TED events for viewers like us.

Just a couple weeks in, we have already created such a trusting bond which enables us to write and discuss about anything. What I have learned from this is the many benefits come from having a pen pal. We not only have someone to write to our age, but we make a friend across the world. Since we all have different opinions on topics, we need to work together to educate one another. Life in Westchester, New York contrasts to life in Sarawak, Malaysia. Therefore, having a tie like this is extremely important to a student. It allows us to have a deeper understanding of international life and a well-rounded concept of foreign cultures and perception.