Overseas Pen Pals

The Filipino pen pals first writing their letters
The Filipino pen pals first writing their letters

“My kid likes to eat rice!” “Mine plays basketball!!” “Her birthday is tomorrow!!!”

These were just some of the joyous exclamations of American 3rd grade students as they opened letters written by an international Filipino pen pal. Others came to me with questions, “What is ‘ma-bu-hey’?” And soon all students were scrambling to their desks with paper and pens to write a reply.

American classroom
American classroom

Once I explained that “Mabuhay” pronounced, “mah-boo-high” is a greeting of welcome in Filipino language, several American students began their own letters with this Filipino word and even signed “ingat” or “take care” before their name to close the letter.

The American pen pals
The American pen pals

Soon the Filipino student participants will be opening these American replies that I carried in my suitcase on my flight back. I am expecting another flurry of excitement and questions when I deliver this set of letters.

Some of my favorite quotes from the letters are below:

  • “Hi Leo, My name is Leo too!”
  • “I think you will be a nice friend. Please write back.”
  • “We play that slipper game in America too, we call it dodgeball.” – After I showed a video clip of Filipino students throwing flip flops (which they call slippers) at each other in the school yard.
From a 3rd grade Filipino student
From a 3rd grade Filipino student

I also read two of the letters aloud in the White House for my presentation themed “Let Girls Learn.” Check out the video if you have not already seen it:

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