The Power of Penpalling

I read the story: I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Stoicsitz and Martin Ganda.

Wow. This story was just great – a success story as far as penpalling is concerned. It started in September 1997 when Caitlin Stoicsitz, a 7th grader in rural Pennsylvania (USA) and Martin Ganda, who was in his 8th year in school in rural Zimbabwe.

The book chronicles how Caitlin and Martin are paired as penpals through a school project and how they grow to be friends through their letters. Even more, we learn that the two families are connected as Caitlin's family help Martin's family through some difficult financial times in Zimbabwe. Martin and Caitlin eventually meet in 2003 and their friendship continues.

I was gripped with the story from the beginning. It was well-written and very interesting to see the juxtaposition of Caitlin’s life with Martin’s life. It was also nice to get real feelings from each of them.

The book is a great advertisement for the power and benefit of encouraging youth to get penpals. This penpal relationship (which is perhaps the only one that endured from all the kids in Caitlin’s class) taught both sides a lot about the other country and people in general.

I would highly recommend the book.

Keep calm and write on!