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The Power of the Pen (Pal)


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Imagine receiving a letter from halfway across the world, from someone you’ve never met before, in a country you haven’t had the opportunity to visit (yet!). In May of 2021, this was an exciting reality for Troop 91122 when they began corresponding with a Girl Scout troop in Japan!

Melissa Williams, troop leader for troop 91122, was connected with the troop leader in Japan by a Girl Scouts of North East Ohio (GSNEO) Board Development Committee member. The Japanese troop was looking for a Girl Scout troop in the United States to start a pen pal exchange with, and Williams and her troop were thrilled to connect. The troops started exchanging letters, first writing introduction letters, then exchanging Christmas cards, and most recently the girls in Japan sent direct addresses for each girl so they could continue writing to their new pen pals at their leisure.

“Watching the girls open their letters and talk about them with each other has been so cool,” Williams said. “They discuss what activities the girls in Japan have written about, what their hobbies are compared to our girls’, and what types of things they do at their Girl Scout meetings!”

For the girls in troop 91122, their new pen pals in Japan have taught them a new culture, expanded their life skills, and the importance of friendship.

The troop collectively said: “It’s taught us more about the world and all the cool things you can do like having a pen pal to continue talking to for a long time. It’s also taught us to help everybody and always make new friends wherever you go, but always keep your old ones, too. We are learning a lot of life skills that we will use forever.”

As far as continuing the conversation, Williams is looking forward to her troop staying in touch with the troop in Japan.

“The girls received individual letters from the girls in the Girl Scout troop in Japan that included their personal addresses, so our girls could continue to communicate with their new pen pal as often as they wish.” She said. “I enjoy helping these girls learn life skills and giving them opportunities to experience activities together that they might not do otherwise. It’s a lot of work but bringing these girls together and building friendships that hopefully last a lifetime is the best reward.”

The troop, located in Kent, stays very active together. They’ve hiked, camped, canoed, rock wall climbed, rode horses, sponsored children around the holidays through an Angel Giving Tree, donated baskets son Veteran’s Day to nursing home veterans, spent the night at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Cleveland Aquarium, donated backpacks filled with supplies to the girls’ elementary school, and so much more! They’ve even made blankets for animal shelters and are working hard to plan an event to collect donations for the APL and a children’s foster agency.

“Each girl is unique and has different talents,” said troop co-leader Julie Read, “but together they are strong and diverse and can conquer any obstacle that gets in the way of their goals.”

There’s strength in the unity of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the globe, and we honor that mighty global sisterhood. If you’re interested in getting your girl or her troop in touch with a Girl Scout or Girl Guide around the globe, click here to learn more.