Archive for Penpal Interviews

November 10th, 2015

Penpal of the Week #178


I’m still beaming with leftover gratitude, food and cake from my birthday celebration weekend! I feel like I got to celebrate 3 days in a row. How lucky am I!?!!


And now it’s your turn to be lucky because I’m sharing a really sweet penpal interview with you today. Here’s Jocelyn!


Please tell us about you!

Greetings, fellow snail mail enthusiasts! I’m Jocelyn. I’m 24, and just moved back to my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina over the summer, after living elsewhere (elsewhere being a variety of places in two different countries) over the last six years. It’s a pretty cool town, and I’m enjoying being near my family again, but I don’t intend to stay forever – too much to see in the rest of the world! Right now, though, I’m content. I’m serving my second year with AmeriCorps VISTA, a national service program dedicated to fighting poverty. Members serve full-time for one year (or two, in my case, although the second is in a different position) with an educational institution or community organization, in exchange for a small living allowance and a great experience. I’m currently serving as VISTA Leader for a project that has 18 members placed in schools & non-profits around Asheville, all to benefit public education and children living poverty. Being VISTA Leader means my job is to support all of our members and the organizations they serve with, coordinate the project, and on the side, help with school volunteer coordination. Oh, and I also recently took on a part-time job with the Girl Scouts, but that hasn’t really started yet so I don’t have much to say about it.



How I look on a normal day/when I have exciting mail.


Other than writing letters (obviously), getting things done for America, and traveling (see above re: the rest of the world), I spend my time pursuing my quest to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich (it’s more complicated than you’d think!), digging through the bins in all of our local thrift stores, enrolling in more MOOCs than I could possibly complete, buying more books than I could possibly read (and reading as many as I possibly can), competing in bar trivia nights (my team is now in a serious feud with my parents’ team), talking to my dogs (three of them – Rocky, Tosca, and Evvy) like they’re people, watching more television than is good for me, lusting over the variety of stationery supplies available on etsy (and spending too much money there), dabbling in various creative pursuits (currently, those are photography, adult coloring books, and meditative drawing), making bad jokes & cringe-worthy puns, arguing about public policy and feminist theory with random people I meet in bars, and expanding my knowledge of the various bottles of wine available for less than $5 at my local grocery store.



How I feel when my mailbox is empty.


Describe your personality in 10 words!

Adventurous, impulsive, opinionated, food-motivated (just like the dog trainer said about Rocky), extroverted, curious, intersectional feminist, long-winded, rule-breaker (parenthetical asides don’t count against my ten words, right? ;) And those hyphenated bits are single words!).



What I do as an AmeriCorps VISTA: Getting things done for America!


How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

I’ve been penpalling on and off for about ten years now. Unfortunately, I lost touch with pretty much all of my penpals over the last few years of moving around a lot. It was also a transitional period for a lot of them, I think, as they were around my age, and it’s hard to keep things up in that uncertain early-adulthood stage! Anyway, I just got back into penpalling earlier this year, and I’m very happy I did. I love getting happy mail! My family thinks it’s a little weird; my dad only opens his mail twice a month. True story.


My first penpal was in 5th grade, and I remember literally nothing about her, unfortunately. I just remember we had class penpals. I don’t even remember where the other class was located. Apparently, I have a terrible memory. What I do remember, though, is how exciting it was when my teacher got that package of letters in the mail every few weeks!! I actually ended up taking on a second penpal when someone in my class moved, that’s how excited about it I was. I don’t remember anything about the second penpal, either, but when I started getting two letters, penpal day was even more exciting. Now, I want to make penpal day as many days as I possibly can, because those are the best days!



Some of my recent outgoing mail.


How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

I’m not entirely sure how many penpals I have, because I feel like I’m still settling into penpalships, as I just got back into this hobby a few months ago. So I’ve written letters to a lot of people, and received a lot of letters, but I’m not sure how many of those will become regular penpals as time goes on. Right now, I’d say there are three people who have become regular penpals, but I’m sending and receiving a lot more mail since I joined the League of Extraordinary Penpals, so we’ll see. (Also, I totally recommend joining the LEP if you are a penpal enthusiast. Which I’m assuming you are, if you’re reading this blog. And no, Denise and Julie did not ask me to say this! It’s just an awesome group!)


What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

I’m happy to discuss how my day’s been, what’s going on in life, etc., but I think the best letters are the ones that go beyond that and into topics we both really care about. Just recently, I’ve written letters about grilled cheese sandwiches, awesome women in history that I should have learned about sooner, various political topics, Buffy the Vampire Slayer from a feminist perspective, and how a film about child soldiers relates to the depiction of violence committed by children in fiction.


I’m not always that serious, though, I promise. I also wrote a letter that included this joke:


Q: What is cheese’s favorite music?

A: R’n’Brie!



Shockingly, I realized I couldn’t find a picture of myself eating a

grilled cheese sandwich, so this will have to do. Here, I am eating

a tiny sandwich from 100 Montaditos, one of my favorite restaurants

(it is a restaurant based on tiny sandwiches, with US locations in

Miami, DC, and New York) in Miami last year. This used to be my

LinkedIn profile picture, if that tells you anything about my personality.


What are you looking for in a penpal?

Someone who’s up for talking about anything, and is passionate about at least a few things. Like I said, talking about the weather or what I’m cooking for dinner is great, necessary, even, but I don’t want that to be all our penpalship consists of. I even like to talk about the things many people like to avoid, like politics and religion. (Unless what I’m cooking is grilled cheese sandwiches, which I am very passionate about.) And if you have strong opinions about punctuation, that would be great. My favorite is the semicolon, closely followed by the ampersand and the Oxford comma.


Also, someone who will write the first letter, because I hate that most of the time.



One of my favorite punctuation marks & best Goodwill finds ever!


What do you like the most about penpalling?

Meeting and befriending people I wouldn’t otherwise meet in the course of my normal daily life. That’s also one of my favorite things about traveling, so it’s nice to be able to recreate a little of that magic through letters.


In what language(s) do you correspond?

English only, I’m afraid. My skills in other languages are more limited to the weather and dinner types of conversation, and I don’t want to limit my friendships to that.



A sample of my handwriting.


What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

If my first letter is a generic intro letter, it will probably be short because I hate writing those. Otherwise, I write medium-long letters, which I consider to be at least 2 sides of A4 (or 4 sides of A5) paper with reasonably-sized handwriting, often considerably longer. But I’m not keeping track or anything, if you send me a shorter letter than that, I don’t mind, as long as it’s interesting! My favorite place to write is in a coffee shop, with a nice hot beverage and a view out onto the street. (But in reality, I do most of my writing in my bed with a lap desk or at my kitchen table, because convenience.) I often like to set the scene when I start my letters – telling my penpal what’s going on around me as I write. It takes me anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to write back, depending on what’s going on in my life, but I think my average reply time is around 2-3 weeks. I don’t mind if it takes you longer to reply, of course. Any letter in my mailbox is exciting, no matter when it arrives!


I also recently acquired an instant camera that prints out what I call “tiny polaroids” (even though it is a Fujifilm camera) so you might receive some of those in a letter from me. I am very excited about it. I have a wall of them above my desk, mostly with pictures of my coworkers.



Some of my tiny polaroids on the wall over my desk. These are my coworkers

and fellow VISTAs, some of them prepared for their photos to be taken

and some of them less prepared.


Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?

I got an envelope just the other day with no return address that contained only a single, unused one-cent stamp and a vocabulary flashcard for people learning English with the word “larger” on it. No earthly idea what that’s about.


Have you met any of your penpals?

Sadly, no, though I’d love to someday!



One of my best friends and me at the Minnesota State Fair in September, posing with

a butter sculpture. The butter sculptures are the busts of finalists in the beauty pageant,

and after the fair, they get to take home their butter sculptures. What do you do with

a 90 pound block of butter with your face carved into it???


Are you currently looking for more penpals?

Definitely! Feel free to send me an email ( or just go right to the snail mail if you want. My address:


Jocelyn Pearce
11 Barger Rd
Asheville, NC 28803

Thanks Jocelyn!


And now it’s your turn! Who wants to be interviewed here on the blog? Send me an email so we can work out the details of you becoming one of our next Penpal of the Week features!

November 3rd, 2015

Penpal of the Week #177


It’s that fun day of the week where I nurse a few cups of coffee and work slowly to recover from all the wine I drank last night. We had friends over for dinner and had such a lovely time. Living in Vermont is great!


This fun day is also all about introducing you to Jacinda… she’s our Penpal of the Week!


Please tell us about you!

Hiya! I’m Jacinda Kumar, eighteen years old from the South Island of New Zealand – you know that rugged forestry elfish landscape in the Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings? That’s where I live, Middle Earth, and we’re all Hobbits down here.


I recently completed my first year of study towards a Bachelor of Arts majoring in both film and history at the University of Otago. Next year my plans are to continue my studies abroad in Bristol (UK), focusing predominately on filmmaking to achieve my goals of becoming the next Steven Spielberg! My interests outside the realms of working with fancy cameras include music, archery and travelling. I play both the violin and cello in various performance groups; my absolute highlight of this year was playing backup violin for Rod Stewart for his show of 25,000 people in Dunedin… That may sound impressive, but there isn’t the same “wow” effect when I tell people that of my generation who haven’t even the slightest idea regarding who Rod is haha.



In my dreams I’m a movie star.


Describe your personality in 10 words!

Quirky, optimistic, cheerful, loyal, volatile, passionate, rational, versatile, exuberant and energetic.


How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

I have been penpalling for almost four years now. I received my first letter at the age of fourteen from my penpal (who I still regularly contact) Sonia from Finland. It is such a magical experience when a letter arrives in the mailbox, and I became utterly indulged in the art of sending and receiving letters. Since then, the amount of connections I’ve formed across the world has just exploded!



Rod’s backup strings, taken right after the concert.


How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

I’ve had many on/off penpals, but my “solid” penpals include Francesca from the USA (a Harvardarian!), Laura from Germany, Julia from Austria, Nikki from the Netherlands, Claire from Canada, and of course Sonia from Finland.



My lovely parents and I.


What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

I love discussing and reading about recent travels and adventures – I live vicariously through the travels of my penpals! But anything is exciting to read about, whether it’s the weather, school, food, sleep, exercise, friends, or the lot! It’s a whole other country, and every lifestyle is interesting.



My classmates of 2014.


What are you looking for in a penpal?

My rules are simple: If you’re not a scam, and are enthusiastic about sending letters, you’re a perfect penpal!


What do you like the most about penpalling?

I love the thrill of receiving a letter in the mail, the connections formed around the world, and just having someone to rant on about things to! It just makes life a bit more fun!



My letter collection over the years.


In what language(s) do you correspond?

I have once received a letter in German, but after nearly failing German at school I think English is best to stick with. Although, right now I am learning a bit of Russian, in a decade I should be fluent haha.



This is the Cellists of Otago, a group I am part of.


What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

Last year I got a little bit lazy replying back to letters, but generally I like to respond within 1-2 weeks, as it’s very easy to lose track of a conversation with snail mail. Preferably, I like to write letters with my inky black fountain pen, but I use it so often that the ink never lasts!


Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?

Nothing weird has happened yet, but I have had a penpal who once asked to use one of my violin covers for the track to some ice-skating competition routine… It wasn’t strange, but it certainly blew me away that several ice-skaters in Scandinavia would be skating to my music!



One of my many types of handwriting styles.


Have you met any of your penpals?

I would love to meet all of my penpals someday, but that day is yet to come. Next year whilst on my exchange I hope to do some travelling around Europe – perhaps I’ll meet up with some penpals nearby!


Are you currently looking for more penpals?

You can never have enough penpals, I’m always up to discovering a new friend across the sea!


Thanks Jacinda!


Julie’s designing stationery for upcoming La Papierre stationery subscriptions and I have some spreadsheet admin work to tend to. What’s going on in your day? Leave me a comment and tell me about it…



My name is Julie and I'm 35.
I'm French Canadian and fell
in love with an American,
so I'm now living in Vermont
with my wife.

I write letters, I love stationery and I have a handwriting fetish. I often eat sushi, still feel like I'm 16 and only wear skirts & dresses (with colorful tights when it's cold).

I'm happier with a mind full of ideas, a mailbox full of letters from my penpals, a shop full of stationery, a house full of pens and a day full of hugs.

Read my Top 10 Quirks here.

This is me with my wife,
Denise. We met through the
League of Extraordinary
Penpals and are living
happily ever after in the
Stationery Kingdom.

Denise blogs here too and is
the one in charge of the
social media: Facebook,
Twitter and Pinterest.

She's 39 years old,
from South Dakota,
and in love with me, washi
tape & imperial rolls.

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