Who is American?

February 19, 2004

When I was a little girl, I signed up for an international penpal. I picked Australia because I was intrigued by the land of koalas and funny accents. When I got my first letter, with vital stats and photograph and everything, I was disappointed to learn that my new penpal was named Chan and she was Chinese. Chinese! That’s not what I signed up for. I remember being so disappointed. It didn’t occur to me until a couple years ago that maybe she had the same reaction when she saw the mug of a scrawny Filipino girl — not a blond, blue-eyed American beauty — staring back at her.


  1. katharine says:

    I hear you and raise you!

    When I was 15, our grade 10 French class teacher coordinated with one of his friends, who was a grade 10 teacher in France, so that all the students could have pen pals. I had two pen pals–one was an Arabic guy and the other one had just moved there from Poland. No zizi and mon cherie from those two, I tell ya!

    But we still write :)

  2. robyn says:

    When I was in middle school I had a penpal from Japan. We corresponded many times before we traded pictures. After I sent her my picture I never heard back from her. I wrote to her several times afterward, but she never wrote back. I always figured that it was because instead of getting this cute popular looking girl, she got this chunky four-eyed nerd.

  3. carly says:

    i’m in australia, you wanna be my pen friend?

  4. Han says:

    That’s funny — I just got a sweet letter from a girl in Myanmar who would like to be my penpal. Have you heard of pX! ? It’s a great thing, too.

  5. Ani says:

    That is soo funny. One of our school projects was to sign up for a penpal. I got a girl named Robin from Texas. Unfortunetly we lost touch. I found the experience sooo neat that as a teen I signed up for a penpal from Australia her name was Jane.

  • I'm Christine, and this is a slice of my life—a sweet, rich, wildly indulgent slice that would taste really good with a scoop of Breyers vanilla bean ice cream. Read more >>

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