Tuesday, January 31, 2012

International Youth Service (Pen Friends) 1960

This article is from The Boarder Issue 4 1961


The International Youth Service is commonly known as the Pen Friend Service. It's headquarters are in Turko, Finland and it has connections with a large number of countries in both hemispheres, from which pen friends are available. Young people between the ages of 10 and 25 can be supplied with pen friends within a matter of days from almost any of the countries where the world's postal service operates. Millions of young people all over the world keep up correspondence with each other and writing to England is very popular as many foreign members of the service are anxious to improve their English.

Why correspondence like this has reached such proportions can be explained very easily. Firstly, young people in all civilised countries are very interested in the habits of people in other countries; secondly by correspondence, they can very easily learn a new language; and thirdly, when travelling abroad one never has too many acquaintances.

This service was first introduced into the school in 1960, when Form Lower Three of that year were asked if they were interested in having pen friends from abroad. I was asked to take charge of the applicant's forms and contact the Youth Service. Shortly after forwarding the applications I had a reply from Finland giving the names and addresses of boys and girls who were willing to write to boys in the school.

In 1961 I had another letter from the International Youth Service asking if I knew of any other boys who would like pen friends and enclosing application forms. Soon I managed to complete a list of boys who wanted pen friends, although there was some hesitation in finding the three shillings membership fee! As this money had to be sent in the form of International Postal reply coupons i caused some embarrassment in the village post office when I quietly asked for three dozen International reply Coupons. The Post Office, which had probably sold one of these in the last ten years kept only a small stock, a very small stock..Kidderminster General Post Office was later able to help us.

Over the following months i began to see examples of letters which arrived from young people abroad. Some of their attempts at writing English were very funny, although there were occasions when corrections were made by children in Japan and Sweden to our own English!! Here are a few examples of extracts from letters received by boys in the school; they are still wondering about the meanings!!

"I have a big nose, a very big nose, but not quite a small nose."

"I wish you a write good interspace. I go not into the country."

"Have you heard that one man has been in the Wideness? I think it is very miraculous"

"Perhaps when we are old we can from earth to the moon. Perhaps we shall meet there...."

"My teacher's classes are square, and she wears very modern clothes."

"This quarter we shall not have the bullet because the teachers are on strike..."

" Do you love Bardot and if you love her I will send you a photo..."

"I am sorry i cannot send you a photo but I have now dropped it in the duck pond."

Finally there is the promise

"I will speak you in English in my next letter."

It is always the interest in what will come in the next letter which keeps this correspondance going. I would think Finland and sweden are the two most popular countries for pen friends. Most boys in the school prefer to write to girls abroad.

If you would like a pen friend, or you would like some forms to get your friends some pen friends, send a letter to the following address;
International Youth service, Turko, Finland.
Happy Correspondence Pen friend
J. Starling - Form Lower 111 (1961)

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