International Pen Friends

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Becoming friends with international pen friends is a great way to expand one's cultural horizons and to meet new people. Modern technology has created numerous opportunities for individuals from different parts of the world to communicate with one another via internet networks and email. Signing up with such a site is relatively simple. The hardest part may be deciding which of the many sites to choose. Perhaps the best thing to do is to take the time to visit and browse several sites. Once a choice is made, the visitor signs up for the service by creating a user name, password, and profile. The profile may request such information as the person's gender, age, occupation, and hobbies. This information is used by other members to find people with similar interests or of a specific age range. Similarly, the new member can find potential international pen friends by conducting searches using these same criteria. Additionally, the member can often search by language, country, and sometimes even by city.

In choosing a pen pal service, individuals should be sure that certain security measures are in place. The service may give members a dedicated email address so that their individual email addresses aren't made public. Chat rooms, message boards, and forums may be part of the service and these can be excellent opportunities for making new friends and learning more about other languages and cultures. Some services may have applications that help members communicate with international pen friends. For example, the site may have features that assist with translating. Several languages use alphabetical characters with accents or other diacritical marks. A site may have features that will insert these characters for users who do not have keyboards with these types of keys. Using the correct alphabetical characters will help members learn the correct spelling and punctuation for foreign words and phrases.

Teachers can find international pen friends for their students as a fun way to learn about different countries and their cultures and customs. Some sites cater to educators by offering special programs for classrooms. For example, a fifth-grade class in the United States may begin exchanging emails with kids of the same age in a class in Italy or the Philippines. The students can share information about their schools, sports, favorite foods, and how different holidays are celebrated. This kind of cultural exchange is much more fun than reading a textbook and certainly will enhance the students' interest and learning. The teachers of the classrooms may even send packages to one another with small gifts for the students that represent the different countries. This is also an opportunity for the class to learn common words and phrases in the native language of the students' international pen friends. Some sites may have suggested games and activities that the teachers can use to help the students get acquainted with their new faraway buddies. The benefits of this type of learning experience go far beyond the fifth-grade classroom.

Scripture tells us that languages came from God. Long ago, "the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech" and the people of that time decided to "build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." Displeased with their hubris, "the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth" (Genesis 11:1, 4, 8-9a). Over the millennia since then, languages continue to evolve, grow, and even fade away. Establishing friendships with international pen friends can help individuals see the similarities and differences that English has with other languages. Often, learning another language can even increase one's understanding of English grammar.

The better pen pal community sites will provide tips for communicating with new friends from other countries. For example, it's suggested that international pen friends write to each other in a combination of both the native language and the other person's language. This way, the friends aren't limited to the vocabulary they may already have learned in the other language. More interesting letters or emails can be exchanged. Additionally, the friends can translate for each other. For example, one friend can send a message in the non-native language and ask the other person to translate it into English and send it back. The first person can see how closely his intended message matches the English translation. The friends can provide feedback for each other this way which will help them both improve vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, and grammar. The email exchanges are also a great way to learn about another culture's idioms and slang. Even people who aren't interested in becoming fluent in a foreign language can benefit from joining an international pen friends community. Anyone who is planning a trip to another country might want to search for a pen pal from the area that he or she will be visiting. This is a fun way to get firsthand and up-to-date information about the weather, special events, must-see attractions, the food, and the culture. Whatever one's reasons for seeking friends from faraway places, a great place to begin are the websites the provide these connections.

Online International Pen Pals

Writing to online international pen pals is a great past time which can lead to long term friendships, career opportunities, or even marriage! The worldwide web brings people across town or across the globe to our doorsteps. Because of Internet connectivity, individuals or groups can hold online conversations through chat rooms, instant messages, video or audio clips, or Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP). Today's advances in digital technology have all but made conventional postal mail and long distance dialing obsolete. Because of access to hundreds of thousands of databases, users from nearly every continent on the planet can communicate in different languages and across varying time zones; and the possibilities are unlimited. School students can engage in conversations with overseas pen pals as part of an ongoing class project. Youngsters from two different continents can explore cultural differences and engage in real time geographical studies, rather than merely reading from a text book. Foreign exchange students can meet host parents and families by sharing photos, or writing via instant messaging and chat rooms. And single men and women searching for love can find that special someone via online dating and email correspondence.

Increasingly, global citizens on foreign and domestic soil are discovering low-cost efficient ways to reach out and talk to someone via a home or office PC. By joining web-based pen pal clubs, millions of people who share similar interests, hobbies, and affiliations can develop enduring friendships or embark on a lifelong romance. Travel associations and individual tourists may consider becoming online international pen pals with members residing in France, Italy, or Greece. International members may open their homes to tourists who regularly correspond via electronic letter writing. Online international pen pals may be invited to spend holidays and vacations in exotic tropical islands, sharing the culture with indigenous peoples. A long term relationship built by regular cyberspace communications can help create opportunities for low-cost travel, overseas careers or studies, or a chance to meet and marry someone who shares similar interests, goals and aspirations. Lonely hearts don't have to be lonely any longer with the world as close as a click of the mouse.

One of the main goals of sites which host online international pen pals is not only to expose children and adults to other cultures, but also to help build multicultural relationships. Due to the advent of the Internet, people of all nations, kindreds and tongues are fast becoming next door neighbors, sharing cyberspace and communicating on a daily basis. While some may use the worldwide web to produce income, digital communication has some extremely positive aspects. Online international pen pals help break down cultural barriers and re-unite human kind, a reversal of the dispersal of the races at the Tower of Babel. In Genesis, chapter 11, the Holy Scriptures record the fact that all of mankind originally spoke one language! However, God was forced to confound their speech because of self-serving efforts to build a tower to heaven, with no regard for His divine headship. "And the Lord said, Behold the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one anothers speech" (Genesis 11:6-7). Amazingly, the worldwide web may have the capability of restoring man to one language, a sort of digital dialect, which transcends cultural differences.

Regardless of one's native tongue, joining a web-based pen pal club is easy. Membership is available in most countries; and sites which advertise online international pen pals provide personal accounts to users of all ages from 13 and up. Members have access to information about other participants according to data entered on user applications and profiles. Site administrators may attempt to match users of similar ages or interests by granting access to age-appropriate databases. Users may also opt to block data included within a profile from being accessed by individuals or groups that are not closely matched in age or interests. For instance, online pen pals are protected by administrators that prohibit adult users from targeting and soliciting minors for illegal activity. Applicants must agree to a code of conduct before registering to use web-based services. Approved users are issued a password-protected identification which is used to activate and access a personal profile. Information included in a member profile includes a user name, a valid and active email address, age, city, state, and country of residence. New applicants must agree to accept responsibility for downloads, electronic messages, audio and video tapes, and any other activity performed on user accounts.

Online international pen pals can chat for hours at little or no cost, or exchange photos, videos, or music as long as members comply with strict site guidelines. Because the Internet may expose members for unscrupulous users to access personal information and invade privacy, administrators enforce stringent requirements for member activity. Participants are encouraged to safeguard passwords, report suspicious inquiries and use the site responsibly. Posting defamatory, derogatory, sexually explicit, or pornographic material online is a violation which may result in immediate termination of a member's account. And since violations can impact citizens of foreign and domestic governments, such a precaution is understandable and to be applauded.

As the Internet continues to bring citizens of the global community closer together, the number of online international pen pals will continue to increase. Men, women, girls and boys from all walks of life, from every ethnicity, and every social strata will find traveling abroad via the worldwide web an awesome adventure with unlimited potential. As worldwide citizens, the globe has become our backyard and every man our neighbor. Exploring new vistas in domestic and foreign lands, writing to new friends, classmates, and newly found lovers offers an exciting past time for individuals of every age who don't mind sharing a bit of their lives and experiences with the world.



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